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Does Lifting Heavy Weights Hurt Your Heart?

author image Charles Webb
Charles Webb has been writing since 2000. He works as a copy editor and as the feature health-and-fitness writer for the "Pasadena Citizen." Webb has a Bachelor of Arts in journalism from the University of Houston.
Does Lifting Heavy Weights Hurt Your Heart?
Lifting heavy weights has been linked to damage to your aorta. Photo Credit Brian McEntire/iStock/Getty Images

Every person who wants to build muscles practices by lifting heavy weights. While there are several benefits of strength training by lifting weights, there is also a potential threat to your heart that you have to consider. Always check with your health care professional before beginning a strenuous workout routine.

Lifting Weights and Impact on the Heart

Dr. David Ancona, a cardiologist with Memorial West in Pembroke Pines, Florida, says that it is very essential for people who lift weights to get a regular heart screening done. The reason is that lifting weights has a direct impact on the aorta, which is the heart's main artery. He says that lifting more than half your body weight will put an immense strain on your aorta, causing it to tear in some places.

Symptoms of Heart Problem due to Lifting Weights

Dr. John Elefteriades, chief of cardiothoracic surgery at Yale-New Haven Hospital, says that a rise in blood pressure from lifting heavier weights than half your body weight, can result in a torn aorta. The symptoms of a torn aorta are very similar to having a stroke. The pain is sharp and stabbing and it leads to the feeling of nausea, causing you to feel very light headed.

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Research in this Field

A study by cardiothoracic surgeons at Yale-New Haven Hospital in December of 2003 proved that there is a strong link between heart problems and weight lifting, and strength training as a whole. Dr. Elefteriades, who led the study, says that the study was conducted on five healthy individuals who suffered a condition called aortic dissection during weight lifting. The study showed that heavy weight lifting can lead to a rise in blood pressure to almost 300.

What is Aortic Dissection

If you are into lifting weights and have a family history of heart problems, you need to be aware of the condition called aortic dissection. Aortic dissection is a condition where the wall of the aorta splits. The splitting of the aortic walls allows blood, already under high pressure due to strenuous lifting, enter the heart, causing sharp and stabbing pain. The condition is generally lethal, unless surgery is performed as soon as possible.

Muscle Damage

Similar research has also been conducted by Yokohama University in Japan in 2008, which proved that lifting heavy weights caused a lot of damage to your muscles, as well. Lifting heavy weights led to the burning of the muscles, causing severe pain. If heavy weight lifting continues over a long period of time, your muscles can become damaged permanently.

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