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Systemic disease and other conditions: athlete’s heart 

Systemic disease and other conditions: athlete’s heart
Systemic disease and other conditions: athlete’s heart

Antonello D’Andrea

, André La Gerche

, and Christine Selton-Suty

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date: 01 December 2021

The term ‘athlete’s heart’ refers to the structural, functional, and electrical adaptations that occur as a result of habitual exercise training. It is characterized by an increase of the internal chamber dimensions and wall thickness of both atria and ventricles. The athlete’s right ventricle also undergoes structural, functional, and electrical remodelling as a result of intense exercise training. Some research suggests that the haemodynamic stress of intense exercise is greater for the right heart and, as a result, right heart remodelling is slightly more profound when compared with the left heart. Echocardiography is the primary tool for the assessment of morphological and functional features of athlete’s heart and facilitates differentiation between physiological and pathological LV hypertrophy. Doppler myocardial and strain imaging can give additional information to the standard indices of global systolic and diastolic function and in selected cases cardiac magnetic resonance imaging may help in the diagnosis of specific myocardial diseases among athletes such as hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, dilated cardiomyopathy, or arrhythmogenic right ventricular cardiomyopathy.

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