Running with Face Masks or Respirators Can Be Detrimental to the Respiratory and Cardiovascular Systems
Since the first cases of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) were reported at the end of 2019, this infection has spread around the globe, becoming a pandemic. The use of face masks and respirators is an important public health measure to reduce or prevent transmission of SARS-CoV-2. Here we discuss the hypothetical mechanisms by which exercise with face masks or respirators can induce detrimental effects on the cardiovascular system, potentially explaining adverse events such as cardiac arrhythmias and spontaneous pneumothorax. Although sudden death associated with the wearing of a face mask during running is a rare event, the risk is higher especially in those with existing cardiac comorbidities. In such cases, a mask designed specifically for runners with no or few side effects of oxygen deficiency should be considered instead.
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Affiliations: The First Affiliated Hospital of Xi’an Jiaotong University,
Appeared or available online: March 3, 2021