Training for a First-Time Marathon reverses Age-Related Aortic Stiffening

The aorta is the main and largest artery in the human body, originating from the left ventricle of heart and extending down to the abdomen. It serves as a conduit for delivery of an adequate oxygenated blood supply to peripheral tissues. During youth, most large arteries are very compliant and elastic, but stiffen as we age. Aortic stiffness is described as elastic resistance to deformation. Its elastic properties allow the aorta to store half of the cardiac ejected blood volume per beat.

Aortic stiffness is a hallmark of aging. It has been linked to increased risk of atherosclerotic heart disease, myocardial infarction and stroke. Aortic stiffness is an independent predictor of vascular morbidity and mortality.

Aortic pulse waveform can be measured and calculated with tonometer. Pulse wave velocity (PWV), the most widely used measure of arterial stiffness can be avaluated with non-invasive devices. Pulse wave Doppler ultrasound can also be used to measure pulse wave velocity. Other more expensive methods as interventional angiography or magnetic resonance tomography are also available.

Few days ago in Journal of American College of Cardiology published study evaluated 138 first time marathon completers. Untrained healthy individuals aged from 21 to 69 yaers undervent 6 months of training for the London Marathon. They undervent assessment before the training and 2 weeks post-marathon. Aortic stifness and another biological parameters were measured. Researchers calculated biological „aortic age“ and evaluated changes in aortic stiffness.

Training decreased systolic and diastolic blood pressure by 4 mmHg and 3 mmHg respectively. it was significant increase of aortic distensibility. These data translated to a reduction „aortic age“ by approximately 4 years. Greater rejuvenation was observed in older and slower individuals.

(J Am Coll Cardiol. 2020 Jan 7;75(1):60-71. doi: 10.1016/j.jacc.2019.10.045.)