Case study:Testing for health risks of a Swedish master athlete


Hakan is 65 years old, with a competitive background in orienteering.

After a break for many years, he wanted to start training and competing again in master classes. But due to his age, Hakan was worried. Also, during a competition, he got a strong physical reaction of discomfort in his body, rash outbreak and urinary infection-like symptoms. 

“Every time I trained, I was scared of getting a heart attack. I was worried every time.”  

Hakan wanted to feel safe during exercise and competition. After his negative health reaction, he was worried about his health when he exercised.

Due to Hakan’s age and a previous diagnosis of high blood pressure, Hakan was at medium risk for cardiovascular disease.

Examination and testing

According to Hakan’s health history, he had elevated blood pressure but recently he has not needed any medication. However, initial health examination at Paliesius clinic showed elevated blood pressure.

Results from Hakan's examination during rest:

Initial health examination.

ECG: Heart activity was normal at rest (ECG= Electrocardiogram, testing of the electrical activity of the heart.)

Blood pressure: 193/80 mm/hg (normal blood pressure is recommended to be 100 – 140/60 – 90 mmHg)  

Resting heart-rate: 70 b/min (resting heart rate is recommended to be at or below 70 b/min)

No other health issues were found. Increased blood pressure values were suspected to be due to stress and testing of reaction to physical exercise was important to get a full picture. No complaints or other symptoms.

Results from Hakan's testing during physical exercise:

Testing was done in a clinical environment and in the field. Measurements were made to see the physical reaction both under controlled and real circumstances (in this case, orienteering). During testing, continuous ECG and blood pressure reaction was used as a primary measure, but other parameters were also taken for a wider picture. Read more about testing for master athletes.

High V02max: it meads that Hakan had very good cardiofitness.

Normal ECG during exercise. It means that the heart showed no signs of irregular heart rhythm or other problems.

Blood pressure reaction was good. The blood pressure was within good limits during exercise. It rised and lowered as expected.

Slow return to resting heart-rate. After exercise, the heart-rate was elevated and returned to normal slowly, showing that Hakan had lowered tolerance to exercise.


No life-threatening signs were seen during exercise, but Hakan’s heart rate recovery was slow. Hakan was recommended to do intermediate testing because of his age and history of high blood pressure. With intermediate testing, any problem can be identified early.

Based on the testing, the goal was formed to increase the recovery and exercise tolerance. An individual exercise program was constructed based on heart rate zones to increase exercise tolerance and recovery. With increased knowledge, tolerance, recovery and the fear of a heart attack was reduced.

By making small changes, Hakan can now feel more safe and know that he is improving his health and cardio fitness. With increased tolerance, he also minimizes the risk of adverse effects or risks in exercise and competition.

“I got a safe zone to exercise, where my stamina is increased but my health is also affected in a positive way. And I also learned about the upper heart rate limit, at which I don’t get any positive effects from exercise and only cause stress for my body.”

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