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Open Access Running with Face Masks or Respirators Can Be Detrimental to the Respiratory and Cardiovascular Systems

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This article is Open Access under the terms of the Creative Commons CC BY licence.

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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Keywords: COVID-19; Face masks; Respiratory system; Running

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Department of Cardiovascular Medicine, The First Affiliated Hospital of Xi’an Jiaotong University, 277 Yanta West Road, Xi’an, 710061 Shaanxi, China 2: Tianjin Key Laboratory of Ionic-Molecular Function of Cardiovascular Disease, Department of Cardiology, Tianjin Institute of Cardiology, Second Hospital of Tianjin Medical University, China

Publication date: September 1, 2021

This article was made available online on March 3, 2021 as a Fast Track article with title: "Running with Face Masks or Respirators Can Be Detrimental to the Respiratory and Cardiovascular Systems".

More about this publication?
  • Cardiovascular Innovations and Applications (CVIA) publishes focused articles and original clinical research that explore novel developments in cardiovascular disease, effective control and rehabilitation in cardiovascular disease, and promote cardiovascular innovations and applications for the betterment of public health globally. The journal publishes basic research that has clinical applicability in order to promote timely communication of the latest insights relating to coronary artery disease, heart failure, hypertension, cardiac arrhythmia, prevention of cardiovascular disease with a heavy emphasis on risk factor modification. Cardiovascular Innovations and Applications is the official journal of the Great Wall International Congress of Cardiology (GW-ICC). It aims to continue the work of the GW-ICC by providing a global scientific communication platform for cardiologists that bridges East and West.

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