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Int J Cardiol. 2006 Jul 28;111(1):113-9. Epub 2005 Nov 2.

Left ventricular hypertrophy in Caucasian master athletes: Differences with hypertension and hypertrophic cardiomyopathy.

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Department of Experimental Medicine, Second University of Naples, Naples, Italy.



To study, by conventional echocardiography, left ventricular remodelling and function in master athletes, hypertension and hypertrophic cardiomyopathy.


We studied 30 master athletes (MA; soccer players; mean age 43.9+/-5.9), 24 subjects with essential hypertension (HYP; 46.6+/-6), 20 patients with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM; 42.2+/-9) and 30 normal individuals (CG; 43.4+/-5). An integrated M-mode/two-dimensional echocardiographic analysis was performed to determine chambers dimensions, relative wall thickness (RWT) and left ventricular mass (LVM), indexed to height in meters raised to the power of 2.7 (LVM/h(2.7)). Cut-off levels for LVM/h(2.7) and RWT were defined to assess 4 different patterns of LV geometric remodelling. In addition, we measured indexes of global systolic performance and indexes of global diastolic function.


LV wall thickness and LV end-diastolic dimensions were higher in MA than controls, but significantly lower than other groups. LVH/h(2.7) was increased in 79% of HYP and in 95% of HCM, but was within the normal limits in MA. LV geometry was normal in 22 out of 30 MA (73%), while the remaining (8 athletes, 27%) showed a concentric remodelling. Systolic function (FS and EF) was normal in MA, but was slightly reduced in HYP and increased in HCM. Analysis of diastolic function showed an abnormal relaxation pattern in all HYP and 95% of HCM, but was normal in all MA. The ratio between peak filling rate and stroke volume (PFR/SV), a relatively independent index of diastolic function, was significantly greater in hypertensive patients with normal LV remodelling compared to those without it (4+/-0.39 vs. 4.91+/-0.19; P = 0.0002).


MA showed lower values of wall thickness, LV dimensions and LV mass compared with HYP and HCM. Despite an abnormal remodelling, all the athletes showed a normal systolic and diastolic function. The differential diagnosis between MA, HYP and HCM is feasible by accurate, comprehensive standard Doppler echocardiography.

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