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Study shows marathon participation causes temporary injury to kidneys

March 30, 2017 at 11:11 AM

Researchers at Yale University have found that marathon runners can suffer Acute Kidney Injury (AKI), due to the physical tension they experience while running the race. Although AKI is a temporary injury that heals within a span of two days after the race, questions arise about the long-term impacts of this exhausting task.

The American Journal of Kidney Disease published a study on this subject on March 28, 2017.

In 2015, over 500,000 marathon participants were from the United States. Research in the past has revealed that damage is caused to the kidneys as a result of carrying out abnormally forceful activities in high environmental temperatures such as mining, sugarcane harvesting and military training. However, other negative effects on the kidneys such as potential damage from running a marathon are not known.

Dr Chirag Parikh, Professor of Medicine, along with his team, conducted research on a small group of runners who participated in the Hartford Marathon in the U.S.

Blood and urine samples were collected on the day before the race. These were compared with the samples collected immediately after the marathon and on the next day after the race.

The results showed a significant increase in the serum creatine kinase levels as well as structural damage to the renal tubules. In a sample of 22 runners, 82% presented with AKI-stage I (a 1.5- to 2-fold increase in the serum creatinine level) and stage 2 (more than a 2- to 3-fold increase in the creatinine level).

Dr Parikh stated that as the runners undergo intense physical stress, the kidney is injured, exhibiting symptoms similar to that in a patient with kidney medical complications.

The research confirmed the possibility that the injury to the kidneys could be due to increase in the body temperature of the runners, thirst, or even the reduced rate of blood flow to the kidneys.

Results from the second day after the marathon race showed the kidney to return to it’s normal state; however, the research poses questions about the long-term impact of this arduous activity when performed frequently, particularly in warm temperatures.

Dr Parikh stated that further research is needed. Previous studies have shown the effects of marathon running on the heart functions and this new research deduces a vital point—marathon race-related stress also has an effect on the renal function.

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