News & Views from the Editor-in-Chief - L. Bruce Gladden
As usual, I have selected three excellent articles in this month's issue. Because Masters athletes are able to achieve exceptional athletic and physiological functional performance, they are considered as biological models for understanding the physiology of the healthy and intrinsic human aging process. Lepers and colleagues showed how a 59-year-old former Olympian marathoner has managed to limit his age-related decline in performance (~5% per decade) by maintaining a high VO2max and a remarkable ability to sustain a high percentage of VO2max (at least 90% of VO2max) during the marathon. Masters athletes provide useful insight into the positive example of successful aging, serve as role models for the promotion of physical activity at all ages, and illustrate physiological function at the extreme.
The US Army excludes individuals for military service if they have burn injuries covering more than 40% of their body surface area (BSA) due to a heightened risk for a heat-related injury. Cramer and colleagues investigated whether this criterion should be scaled for body size. They measured esophageal temperature during 60 min of cycling exercise in the heat (39°C and 20% RH) at 500 W of metabolic heat generation in large (96.2 kg) and small (64.5 kg) individuals, with each group having a 40% BSA simulated burn. Despite clamping metabolic heat generation and the simulated burn area, smaller individuals had a substantially greater increase in esophageal temperature at the end of exercise, suggesting that a strict 40% BSA burn injury cutoff does not apply similarly to soldiers of all sizes, depending on the task.
Anthracycline-induced disease is characteristically difficult to detect and can lie latent for decades before becoming clinically apparent in childhood cancer survivors. Long and colleagues reported that a combination of exercise stress and novel echocardiographic imaging techniques allows for the detection of underlying injury in some childhood cancer survivors. It was during the period directly after exercise that the impairments were most pronounced, with some survivors unable to recover atrial function indicating reduced ventricular compliance after stress. This finding highlights the importance of adding exercise based stress testing into current imaging protocols to unmask early cardiac injury. Also, screening using stress exercise echocardiography should include recovery measures to avoid missed diagnosis of reduced cardiac health by only considering the state of the heart in a resting and peak exercise state.
L. Bruce Gladden
School of Kinesiology