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J Am Soc Echocardiogr. 2017 Sep;30(9):845-858.e2. doi: 10.1016/j.echo.2017.06.013.

Normative Reference Values of Right Heart in Competitive Athletes: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis.

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Department of Medical Biotechnologies, Division of Cardiology, University of Siena, Siena, Italy. Electronic address:
Institute of Sports Medicine and Science, Rome, Italy.
Department of Medical Biotechnologies, Division of Cardiology, University of Siena, Siena, Italy.
Department of Medicine, Surgery, and NeuroScience, University of Siena, Siena, Italy.


Training-induced right ventricular (RV) enlargement is frequent in athletes. Unfortunately, RV dilatation is also a common phenotypic expression and one of the diagnostic criteria of arrhythmogenic RV cardiomyopathy (ARVC). The current echocardiographic reference values derived from the general population can overestimate the presence of RV dilatation in athletes. We performed a meta-analysis of the literature to derive the proper reference values for assessing RV enlargement in competitive athletes. We conducted systematic review of English-language studies in the MEDLINE, Scopus, and Cochrane databases investigating RV size and function by echocardiography and by cardiac magnetic resonance (CMR) in competitive athletes. In total, 6,806 and 740 competitive athletes were included for the echocardiographic and CMR quantification of the RV, respectively. In this review, we present normal reference values for RV size and function to be applied in competitive athletes according to the disciplines practiced. The reference ranges reported in this review suggest that physicians should be aware that application of the current recommendations for normal population could be misleading when evaluating athletes. We suggest using these normative reference values, obtained in competitive athletes, to avoid the potential for mistakenly concluding, in this specific population, that RV size or function are abnormal.


Athlete's heart; Cardiac magnetic resonance; Chamber quantification; Cut-off; Echocardiography; Normative values; Right ventricle

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