My friend sent me this today. its pretty disheartening if its true. Does anyone know anything about this?
Not to be flippant, but I'd file this under "Duh". Ultramarathons are extreme. Very few things, done to an extreme are good for us. But pushing one's limits, even doing some damage long the way, is worth it to many who consider what they gain from such experiences to be invaluable. The net of every article I have read on this subject is that exercise/movement is essential to good health and longevity but pushing the extremes on an ongoing basis is risky.
There is always a counter argument. I cannot access the article you have posted but it would be interesting to know how they measure heart damage. Without actual autopsy (and even then the damage could be due any number of reasons) they are likely to measure the troponin levels (a blood marker for heart damage) and would perhaps perform ultra sounds, MRI scans. As Lori pointed out, there would be many factors contributing to one's heart response to exercise. Do you know if they actually performed any type of genetic analysis (either gene testing or family history evaluation) to determine if these individuals had a higher pre-disposition towards developing heart issues? For example, I was unwell running my last marathon in July (turns out nothing to do with my heart). I had my troponin levels measured and found it was only slightly elevated and returned to normal fairly quickly. I was also (mis) diagnosed with Left Ventricular Non Compaction and because I was not convinced with the diagnosis (which has subsequently been dismissed) and I did not want to play golf for the rest of my life, I did a lot of research on running and heart. In my opinion the studies have not been conclusive about the long term damage to the heart from endurance running. So do what makes you feel good!