Taking evolution to heart

phys.org | 8/12/2019 | Staff
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An international research group at UBC, Harvard University and Cardiff Metropolitan University has discovered how the human heart has adapted to support endurance physical activities. This research examines how the human heart has evolved and how it adapts in response to different physical challenges, and will bring new ammunition to the international effort to reduce hypertensive heart disease—one of the most common causes of illness and death in the developed world.

The landmark study analyzed 160 humans, 43 chimpanzees and five gorillas to gain an understanding of how the heart responds to different types of physical activity. In collaboration with Harvard University's Daniel Lieberman and Aaron Baggish, UBC Professor Robert Shave and colleagues compared left ventricle structure and function in chimpanzees and a variety of people, including some who were sedentary but disease-free, highly active Native American subsistence farmers, resistance-trained football linemen and endurance-trained long-distance runners.

Variety - Participants - Order - Function - Context

The wide variety of participants were specifically recruited in order to examine cardiac function in an evolutionary context. From the athletic stadium to wildlife sanctuaries in Africa, the team measured a diverse array of cardiac characteristics and responses to determine how habitual physical activity patterns, or a lack of activity influence cardiac structure and function, explains Shave.

"Moderate-intensity endurance activities such as walking and running stimulate the left ventricular chamber to become larger, longer and more elastic—making it able to handle high volumes...
(Excerpt) Read more at: phys.org
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