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Scand J Med Sci Sports. 2014 Oct;24(5):e372-80. doi: 10.1111/sms.12178. Epub 2014 Jan 29.

The Scandinavian athlete's heart; echocardiographic characteristics of male professional football players.

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Section of Vascular Investigations, Oslo University Hospital, Aker, Oslo, Norway; Bjorknes College, Oslo, Norway.


This investigation explores the cardiac four-chamber remodeling response to training in male players in Norwegian professional football league, and ethnicity as determinants in the development of athlete's heart. Standard 2D echocardiographic examination and analysis of all four cavities were performed in 504 football players of Caucasian origin, 49 of African origin, and 47 matched Caucasian controls (<3 h training /week). All results were indexed to body surface area (BSA). Most athletes exhibited BSA-indexed values within normal ranges. Left ventricle (LV) mass was equally enlarged in both groups of athletes, but LV relative wall thickness and right ventricular (RV) relative wall thickness were increased in Africans compared with Caucasian athletes (0.37 ± 0.06 vs 0.33 ± 0.06 and 0.25 ± 0.06 vs 0.22 ± 0.04, respectively). Both LV and RV were smaller in Africans than in Caucasian athletes (67.8 ± 12.0 ml/m(2) vs 73.6 ± 13.2 ml/m(2) and 12.8 ± 2.1 vs 13.7 ± 2.4 cm(2) /m(2) , respectively, both P < 0.05), while left and right atria increased similarly. This first large-scale echocardiographic survey of elite football players in a Scandinavian league suggests use of BSA-indexed upper normal limits for both LV and RV in athletes. African athletes had significantly more concentric remodeled LV and RV than the Caucasian athletes.


Africans; Athlete's heart; ethnic differences; ventricular remodeling

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