Asked 8 years, 2 months ago

Can a person compete in races if they have heart valve leakage?

Concerning Heart Valve Leakage, Proper Diagnosis is Key

My 76-year-old mother has been running for 25 years with no problems. She has run several marathons, enjoying national ranking in the top 10 for her age group, and has set several national age records. She routinely completes long runs of 10 to 15 miles, logging approximately 35 miles a week, and crosstrains with bicycling and walking. She has been taking a beta blocker for over 20 years to control blood pressure. About 6 months ago she began feeling tired and winded more easily on her runs. After a series of tests, her physician switched her to a different beta blocker. After an echocardiogram, she was diagnosed with leaky valves. Her physician has advised her not to run more than three miles at a time. She is devastated, as she is a fierce competitor who is in the midst of training for Senior Olympics. She does not want to compromise her health but still wants to compete at the highest level possible. What can she do and where can she turn for advice?

Patricia Neubert
Saxonburg, PA


Membership Required

Become a Member

Become a member of the American Running Association today and enjoy these great benefits!

  • Six issues/year of e-Running & FitNews
  • Access to the Clinic – Ask our experts your sports medicine question
  • Access to more than 1,000 articles on Sports Medicine and Fitness
  • See all benefits