The Prospective Athlete’s Heart Study (Pro@Heart) provides a unique opportunity to rigorously assess the long-term health effects of high-level exercise. In the Pro@Heart study we will comprehensively assess the physical features of an athelete whereafter we will prospectively asses health outcomes over many years. The key to its rigor lies in the comprehensive and prospective nature of this study. This will enable us to assess whether certain individual features (heart size for example) are associated with favourable of unfavourable long-term health outcomes.
There are multiple studies that have been performed in athletes but almost all of these have assessed athlete’s health at a single point in time. Thus, it is not possible to determine whether findings (positive or negative) are due to exercise or pre-existing health status.
A number of large prospective studies performed in the general population (the Framingham Cohort Study (New England, USA) and the Busselton Study (Western Australia) are two examples) have contributed enormously to our understanding of the health effects of cholesterol, blood pressure and other lifestyle factors. However there have not been any studies of this nature and scale in athletes.
This is ambitious project will aim to create the largest prospective study in the world by collaborating with international leaders in sports cardiology, exercise science, genetics and population health. It is expected that the number of international collaborators will increase over time so that the study can provide a description of athletes from multiple nations and various sporting pursuits.