Veteran athletes exercise at higher maximum heart rates than are achieved during standard exercise (stress) testing
Objective. The stress electrocardiogram (sECG) is routinely used to screen individuals for underlying cardiac pathology before an exercise programme is prescribed. The underlying assumption is that the cardiac responses elicited during the sECG test are similar to those achieved during participation in sportiilg activities. However, this premise may be incorrect since the physical demands of different modes of exercise vary substantially.
Design. Ten veteran league squash players (LSP), 10 social squash players (SSP), 10 league runners (LR), 10 social runners (SR) and 10 sedentary individuals (SED) were recruited for the study. All subjects completed a lifestyle questionnaire, a full medical examination and a routine sECG. Thereafter each subject's heart rate (HR) was monitored on two separate occasions while participating in sporting activity.
Results. No sECG exercise-induced abnormalities were observed, although five subjects showed resting abnormalities. Maximal HR during the sECG, and maximal and mean HR during the field tests, were not significantly diHerent between groups. However, maximal HR was significantly higher in all groups during their sporting activities than during stress testing in the laboratory (P < 0.01).
Conclusions. Maximal HR in veteran athletes during specific sporting activities was significantly higher than that attained during a routine sECG. This finding was not sport-specific, nor was it related to the level of competitiveness of the trial participants. These data show that a routine sECG is a submaximal test of exercise performance, and should be interpreted as such.