Logo of brheartjLink to Publisher's site
Br Heart J. 1993 Feb; 69(2): 125–128.
PMCID: PMC1024938

Reduction in left ventricular wall thickness after deconditioning in highly trained Olympic athletes.


BACKGROUND--Clinical distinction between athlete's heart and hypertrophic cardiomyopathy in a trained athlete is often difficult. In an effort to identify variables that may aid in this differential diagnosis, the effects of deconditioning on left ventricular wall thickness were assessed in six highly trained elite athletes who had competed in rowing or canoeing at the 1988 Seoul Olympic Games. Each of these athletes showed substantial ventricular septal thickening associated with training (13-15 mm) which resembled that of hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. METHODS--The athletes voluntarily reduced their training substantially for 6-34 weeks (mean 13) after the Olympic competition. Echocardiography was performed at peak training and also after deconditioning, and cardiac dimensions were assessed blindly. RESULTS--Maximum ventricular septal thickness was 13.8 (0.9) mm in the trained state and 10.5 (0.5) in the deconditioned state (p < 0.005) (change 15-33%). CONCLUSIONS--The finding that deconditioning may be associated with a considerable reduction in ventricular septal thickness in elite athletes over short periods strongly suggests that these athletes had a physiological form of left ventricular hypertrophy induced by training. Such a reduction in wall thickness with deconditioning may help to distinguish between the physiological hypertrophy of athlete's heart and primary pathological hypertrophy (for example, hypertrophic cardiomyopathy) in selected athletes with increased left ventricular wall thickness.

Full text

Full text is available as a scanned copy of the original print version. Get a printable copy (PDF file) of the complete article (901K), or click on a page image below to browse page by page. Links to PubMed are also available for Selected References.

Images in this article

Click on the image to see a larger version.

Selected References

These references are in PubMed. This may not be the complete list of references from this article.
  • Maron BJ. Structural features of the athlete heart as defined by echocardiography. J Am Coll Cardiol. 1986 Jan;7(1):190–203. [PubMed]
  • Pelliccia A, Maron BJ, Spataro A, Proschan MA, Spirito P. The upper limit of physiologic cardiac hypertrophy in highly trained elite athletes. N Engl J Med. 1991 Jan 31;324(5):295–301. [PubMed]
  • Rost R. The athlete's heart. Eur Heart J. 1982 Apr;3 (Suppl A):193–198. [PubMed]
  • Ehsani AA, Hagberg JM, Hickson RC. Rapid changes in left ventricular dimensions and mass in response to physical conditioning and deconditioning. Am J Cardiol. 1978 Jul;42(1):52–56. [PubMed]
  • Fagard R, Aubert A, Lysens R, Staessen J, Vanhees L, Amery A. Noninvasive assessment of seasonal variations in cardiac structure and function in cyclists. Circulation. 1983 Apr;67(4):896–901. [PubMed]
  • Martin WH, 3rd, Coyle EF, Bloomfield SA, Ehsani AA. Effects of physical deconditioning after intense endurance training on left ventricular dimensions and stroke volume. J Am Coll Cardiol. 1986 May;7(5):982–989. [PubMed]
  • Maron BJ, Bonow RO, Cannon RO, 3rd, Leon MB, Epstein SE. Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. Interrelations of clinical manifestations, pathophysiology, and therapy (1). N Engl J Med. 1987 Mar 26;316(13):780–789. [PubMed]
  • Maron BJ, Gottdiener JS, Epstein SE. Patterns and significance of distribution of left ventricular hypertrophy in hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. A wide angle, two dimensional echocardiographic study of 125 patients. Am J Cardiol. 1981 Sep;48(3):418–428. [PubMed]
  • Sahn DJ, DeMaria A, Kisslo J, Weyman A. Recommendations regarding quantitation in M-mode echocardiography: results of a survey of echocardiographic measurements. Circulation. 1978 Dec;58(6):1072–1083. [PubMed]
  • Hickson RC, Kanakis C, Jr, Davis JR, Moore AM, Rich S. Reduced training duration effects on aerobic power, endurance, and cardiac growth. J Appl Physiol Respir Environ Exerc Physiol. 1982 Jul;53(1):225–229. [PubMed]
  • Cullinane EM, Sady SP, Vadeboncoeur L, Burke M, Thompson PD. Cardiac size and VO2max do not decrease after short-term exercise cessation. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 1986 Aug;18(4):420–424. [PubMed]
  • Maron BJ, Roberts WC, McAllister HA, Rosing DR, Epstein SE. Sudden death in young athletes. Circulation. 1980 Aug;62(2):218–229. [PubMed]
  • Maron BJ, Nichols PF, 3rd, Pickle LW, Wesley YE, Mulvihill JJ. Patterns of inheritance in hypertrophic cardiomyopathy: assessment by M-mode and two-dimensional echocardiography. Am J Cardiol. 1984 Apr 1;53(8):1087–1094. [PubMed]
  • Rosenzweig A, Watkins H, Hwang DS, Miri M, McKenna W, Traill TA, Seidman JG, Seidman CE. Preclinical diagnosis of familial hypertrophic cardiomyopathy by genetic analysis of blood lymphocytes. N Engl J Med. 1991 Dec 19;325(25):1753–1760. [PubMed]
  • Watkins H, Rosenzweig A, Hwang DS, Levi T, McKenna W, Seidman CE, Seidman JG. Characteristics and prognostic implications of myosin missense mutations in familial hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. N Engl J Med. 1992 Apr 23;326(17):1108–1114. [PubMed]
  • Lewis JF, Spirito P, Pelliccia A, Maron BJ. Usefulness of Doppler echocardiographic assessment of diastolic filling in distinguishing "athlete's heart" from hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. Br Heart J. 1992 Sep;68(3):296–300. [PMC free article] [PubMed]
  • Lattanzi F, Spirito P, Picano E, Mazzarisi A, Landini L, Distante A, Vecchio C, L'Abbate A. Quantitative assessment of ultrasonic myocardial reflectivity in hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. J Am Coll Cardiol. 1991 Apr;17(5):1085–1090. [PubMed]
  • Lattanzi F, Di Bello V, Picano E, Caputo MT, Talarico L, Di Muro C, Landini L, Santoro G, Giusti C, Distante A. Normal ultrasonic myocardial reflectivity in athletes with increased left ventricular mass. A tissue characterization study. Circulation. 1992 May;85(5):1828–1834. [PubMed]

Articles from British Heart Journal are provided here courtesy of BMJ Group


Save items

Related citations in PubMed

See reviews...See all...

Cited by other articles in PMC

See all...


  • MedGen
    Related information in MedGen
  • PubMed
    PubMed citations for these articles

Recent Activity

Your browsing activity is empty.

Activity recording is turned off.

Turn recording back on

See more...