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Acute mortality during long-distance ski races (Vasaloppet)
Karolinska institutet.
Mora sjukhus.ORCID iD: 0000-0003-2146-7382
2007 (English)In: Scandinavian Journal of Medicine and Science in Sports, ISSN 0905-7188, E-ISSN 1600-0838, Vol. 17, no 4, 356-361 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2007. Vol. 17, no 4, 356-361 p.
National Category
Medical and Health Sciences
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-261003DOI: 10.1111/j.1600-0838.2006.00582.xOAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-261003DiVA: diva2:849268
Available from: 2015-08-27 Created: 2015-08-27 Last updated: 2015-10-01Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Epidemiological Studies on Long Distance Cross-Country Skiers: Participants in the Vasaloppet 1955-2010
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Epidemiological Studies on Long Distance Cross-Country Skiers: Participants in the Vasaloppet 1955-2010
2015 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

The overall aim of this thesis was to study the influence of physical activity on health. Risks and benefits of physical activity is of particular interest since there is a global trend of less physical activity among youths and adults.

In order to investigate this aim we used a database from a large cross country ski race, Vasaloppet, with participants with a wide age range, and with both elite athletes and ordinary people who exercise and promote their health. The most serious risk of strenuous exercise is sudden death and it is challenging to identify preventive effects of major endemic diseases.

Using epidemiological methodology we studied 200 000 Vasaloppet skiers and compared them with the general population. Based on personal identification numbers we added data from Swedish national personal and health registers, clinical registers as the cancer register, Swedeheart, or Swedish stroke register, and socioeconomic information from Statistics Sweden. In the Vasaloppet database we collected data on age, gender, finish time and number of races during the period 1989 to 2010.

We evaluated risk of death during the race in two papers (I,II). During 90 years of annual races, cardiac arrest occurred in 20 skiers, of which five survived. The death rate is in average two per 100 000 skiers.

We also studied the association with cancer incidence (paper III). The overall reduction of cancer was modest among skiers compared with the general population, but for cancers related to lifestyle the risks were markedly lower.

We investigated the risk for recurrent myocardial infarction and found a 30% reduction among skiers (paper IV). In paper V we showed that skiers with a first stroke have a lower incidence of all-cause death. The skiers had a higher frequency of atrial fibrillation but had less severe stroke and no increased risk of recurrent stroke. Thus our data suggest that a lifestyle with a high level of physical activity may work as a protection after a cardiovascular event.

Summary: The short excess mortality in endurance physical activity is by far outweighed by the long term protective effect of exercise in cardiovascular diseases and cancer.


Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Uppsala: Acta Universitatis Upsaliensis, 2015. 108 p.
Digital Comprehensive Summaries of Uppsala Dissertations from the Faculty of Medicine, ISSN 1651-6206 ; 1132
Epidemiology, Cohort study, Physical activity, Lifestyle, Prevention, Sports medicine, Cancer, Cardiovascular disease, Mortality, Cardiac arrest, Atrial fibrillation, Myocardial infarction, Stroke, Cross-Country skiing, Vasaloppet, Sweden
National Category
Medical and Health Sciences
Research subject
urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-260994 (URN)978-91-554-9324-0 (ISBN)
Public defence
2015-10-22, Enghoffsalen, ingång 50, Akademiska sjukhuset, Uppsala, 13:00 (Swedish)
Available from: 2015-09-30 Created: 2015-08-27 Last updated: 2015-10-01

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Hållmarker, Ulf
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