After collecting dozens of articles, I separated them into three general groups/topics around which I built my talk. First, the cardiologist perspective on pre-participation screening. Anyone who did sports in high school likely remembers having to get a doctor to clear you to participate. Well, grown-ups, especially those starting a new exercise program should do the same and there are some specific guidelines about what kinds of questions your doctor should ask and maybe a few tests that she/he should order for you.
Second, I talked about the adaptation to endurance sports. There are a lot of changes that go on in the body to make you better at your chosen sport. For cardiologists, one of the most important is the fact that your heart (a muscle) tries to grow stronger as you challenge it more and more. This means your heart may change size and shape. Now, this part is normal, but what is sometimes very challenging is for cardiologists to know the difference between your heart changing shape because you are an athlete, or your heart changing shape because you have some type of dangerous heart condition (ie: cardiomyopathy). In my talk I cover some of the important ways to tell the difference.
Third, I talked about the risks of being a runner, especially when you are out running. There are a lot of blood tests and imaging tests of the heart that show that during a run, some strange things can go on with the heart. The important part is that no one has yet shown that these strange things are actually dangerous. That said, there are some very real dangers, like the risk of arrhythmias, heart attacks, and sudden death while out running. Clearly, tragic incidents like that of Ryan Shay should make it clear that there are some risks to endurance sports, but the good news (to very briefly summarize) is that the higher risk of having a problem during a run is far outstripped by the dramatic benefit you get from being a runner (ie: preventing heart attacks, preventing disability, and on average living longer.)
At some point I'll try and delve more into the details of my talk, but in the meantime, Happy Holidays!