The circulatory system

No wonder there is so much fuss about the heart.

The heart is at the centre of your body’s circulatory system, which is essential for distributing blood, nutrients, hormones, oxygen, and other gasses throughout your body.

The silent build up of fibrous and fatty material inside the arteries (a condition called atherosclerosis) can make the arteries become clogged, leading to coronary artery disease and other circulatory problems (e.g, stroke). Diet and lifestyle are among the major contributing factors. Therefore, looking after your heart health involves eating wisely and exercising regularly (and sensibly!).

How much do you know about your body’s circulation and your heart’s Lub-Dub? Your heart and the circulatory system have important interfaces with so many other parts of your body.

Check out this interesting overview of the Circulatory System at Pacific Medical Training:


The Sports Analytics Innovation Summit, Melbourne 2016


The Sports Analytics Innovation Summit will be held this week on Tuesday 23 and Wednesday 24 February at the Park Hyatt in Melbourne.

“Push the Boundaries with Data”

“Push the Boundaries with Data” is the theme of the Summit, which will see leading experts and senior sports professionals come together to showcase current trends and best practices in sport-oriented analytics and data.

The challenge for sports experts today is not so much on obtaining the data but rather on discovering innovative ways to use and apply analytics and data to better inform decisions and enhance sports performance on the world stage.

The Program

The Summit promises to be cutting edge with an impressive line-up of speakers, including Sports & Exercise Scientists, Biomechanists, High Performance Directors, Medical Officers, and Sports Strategists from the Australian Institute of Sport, Netball Australia, Cricket Australia, Tennis Australia, AFL, and more.

Topics include:

  • Performance enhancement
  • Injury prevention and conditioning
  • Digital and technical innovation
  • Scouting the right talent
  • Fan engagement

You can check out the full program here: The Schedule

KMG Communications is proud to be reporting on the Summit for the Australian Sports Technologies Network (ASTN).

Follow @theASTN on Twitter to get live updates from KMG Communications during the Summit.

Author: Kara Gilbert @ KMG Communications

The action of a single heart beat

Human hearth cross section

When was your last anatomy lesson? Click on the image above …….

Here is a terrific video animation of the cardiac cycle (which I came across this week at Meddy Bear’s Facebook page). Simple and easy to understand, it shows the sequence of events in a single heart beat:

The Cardiac Cycle

The video very clearly shows the major blood vessels (both arteries and veins) that shunt blood into or out of the heart chambers (i.e., the two atria and two ventricles).

Notice how important the heart valves are within the process. These include the tricuspid valve, pulmonary valve, mitral valve, and aortic valve. Their proper opening and closure during the heart’s relaxation and contraction phases prevents blood flowing the wrong way back into the heart chambers. In short, the heart valves play a very important role in the effective filling and emptying of the heart chambers during each and every heart beat.

The heart is a pretty important organ. Try to keep yours finely tuned, it has a lot of reps to get through in a day!

#hearthealth #hearthealthforathletes

Posted by Kara Gilbert @ KMG Communications

Professional cyclists hide their heart arrhythmias


I came across an article that was published at CyclingTips a couple of years ago, ‘”I thought I was going to die” – Will Walker retires from pro cycling‘. It provides very good insight into the issues surrounding Athlete’s Heart.

The personal account of former Australian pro cyclist, Will Walker, contains invaluable information on the symptoms to be aware of when you are training long and hard. His story highlights the importance to recognise and respond to warning signs concerning your body’s adaption to training and competition when you know you have an heart issue. It is also very interesting to read about his strategies for managing his sometimes unpredictable heart rate during training (e.g., by coughing to reset his rhythm). Will acknowledges the importance of rest, realising after his collapse in the middle of  a race that he was probably tired and not properly recovered from jet lag but still determined to push himself even when he “knew things weren’t right”, culminating in him collapsing off the bike.

What is interesting is that he reports that there are a number of athletes in the professional peloton who suffer from heart arrhythmias but are reluctant to reveal their condition to the teams and the team doctors. At the time this story was published, Baker IDI Heart & Diabetes Institute and William Walker had partnered with the Melbourne Cycling League to support awareness and raise funds for cardiac research to explore conditions like athlete’s heart: “What are we doing about it?

I agree that greater understanding of this cardiac condition and also general arrhythmias in athletes, including the social and psychological aspects that confront athletes diagnosed with heart problems, is needed to improve our current risk assessments and informed decision-making processes. It is good to see that the Baker IDI is researching this agenda.

Posted by Kara Gilbert @ KMG Communications

Some Useful Tips on Magnesium Supplements for Athletes


I discovered the value of magnesium a few years ago when one of my experienced swimming friends suggested that I take it for cramps that I was experiencing in my calf muscles towards the latter part of my swim training sessions. I went and bought some magnesium tables … and, yes!  They actually seemed to work.

While I don’t swallow vitamin supplements religiously, I tend to take magnesium tablets when my training load is getting quite high, especially when I am increasing my distances or combining morning and evening workouts in the same day. I will take my magnesium tablet at night and, more recently, I have taken an extra tablet in the morning before a big race, as a ‘top up’. This has seen me racing better then ever, and I have found myself unaffected by leg cramps that can sometimes bother me in the closing stages of an endurance event.

More information is emerging in the literature on the value of magnesium supplements for athletes. Among its many assets, magnesium plays an important role in a number of biochemical reactions in the body that influence muscle and nerve function and protein synthesis. Magnesium is widely regarded to have a positive impact on heart health.

Magnesium plays an important role in optimising athletic performance. Yet, with so many supplement options in the market place, how do you decide which type of magnesium supplement is right for you? How much magnesium, and how often? Did you know that a high protein diet may enhance the need for magnesium, which is required for the synthesis of gastrointestinal enzymes and the breakdown of proteins in the body?

Here is an informative and easy-to-read article on magnesium supplementation for athletes:  Best Magnesium Supplement for Optimal Athletic Performance

Of course, magnesium rich foods are your best source of magnesium – beans and nuts, whole grains such as brown rice and whole wheat bread, and green, leafy vegetables. As only 20-50% of the magnesium we ingest is absorbed by our digestive systems and given that athletes have higher nutritional demands, magnesium supplementation is reasonable practice for athletes.

When deciding on whether or not to take a vitamin or mineral supplement, you will need to consider your own health circumstances and individual requirements for supplementation. You should take into account any other medications or supplements you may be consuming, to avoid interactions that may lead to unwanted side effects or otherwise impact the desired effect of your vitamin/mineral supplement. If you have an existing medical condition or are taking prescription medicine, it is smart to include a conversation with your treating doctor before taking over-the-counter vitamin and mineral supplements.

Posted by Kara Gilbert @ KMG Communications

Carb Loading vs Fat Burning for Endurance Athletes

STOCKHOLM, SWEDEN - AUG 23, 2015: Ron Darmon and a group of triathletes cycling in the Men's ITU World Triathlon series event August 23, 2015 in Stockholm, Sweden

According to recent research out of The Ohio State University, endurance athletes who ‘go against the grain’ are incredible fat burners.

The common practice of consuming a heavy carbohydrate meal before your long run or bike in order to perform your best is being challenged by new scientific data. Eating fats and protein leading into your event can be an effective way to double your fuel efficiency. Fats provide 9 calories per gram of fuel compared with carbohydrates which provide 4 calories of energy.

In The Ohio State University study, athletes who were adapted to a ketogenic diet (low carb, high fat) over at least 6 months developed into “awesome fat burners” and so were able to effectively draw on fat sources in their body as their primary source of fuel. Furthermore, despite their low intake of carbs, they were  able to maintain normal muscle glycogen (the storage form of carbohydrates)  levels at rest.  This meant that these athletes were able to tap into their glycogen stores during a long race and then afterwards during recovery, after having first relied on their fat stores. That makes for a lot of fuel available for use, more than what athletes on high-carb diets are able to access.

Jeff Volek, Lead Researcher and Professor of Human Sciences at The Ohio State University, proposed that  these findings represent a real paradigm shift in sports nutrition.

For more information, read The Ohio State University news, ‘Endurance Athletes Who Go ‘Against the Grain’ Become Incredible Fat-Burners‘.

Another useful article is one by Marc Bubbs, ND, ‘Are Fats the Optimal Primal Fuel for Endurance Athletes?

Photo source iStock: STOCKHOLM, SWEDEN AUG 23, 2015: Ron Darmon and a group of triathletes cycling in the Men’s ITU World Triathlon series event August 23, 2015 in Stockholm, Sweden

Posted by Kara Gilbert @ KMG Communications

ACC/AHA Updated Recommendations for Competitive Athletes with Cardiovascular Abnormalities


The American College of Cardiology (ACC) and American Heart Association (AHA) recently updated their guidelines on ‘Eligibility and Disqualification Recommendations for Competitive Athletes with Cardiovascular Abnormalities’.

With respect to Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy (HCM), a matter obviously close to my own heart and the single most common cause of sudden death in young competitive athletes in the United States, the new disqualification/eligibility guidelines do not differ that much from those originally stated in the 36th Bestheda Conference 2005.

However, I am very pleased to see greater recognition of patient/athlete autonomy in decision-making processes, with a shift away from adopting a solely “team physician medical judgment model” towards an “athlete informed consent model” specifically mentioned in the guidelines.

So while the guidelines for HCM are still prudent, the Task Force recognized the variable expression of HCM in individuals and now:

“[the] recommendations do not strictly exclude in absolute terms fully informed athletes from participating in competitive athletic programs as long as such a decision is ultimately made in concert with their physician and third-party interests (eg, high schools and colleges) … there will always be tolerance in the system for some degree of flexibility, individual responsibility, and choice in making these decisions for individual student athlete-patients.”

This is really good news!

Note that Australia does not have a similar set of guidelines and the rate of sudden cardiac death in young athletes in the Australian population remains unknown (according to the Baker IDI).

For more information, including recommendations for competitive athletes with other heart conditions, access the complete 2015 Guidelines here:

Posted by Kara Gilbert @ KMG Communications.