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Am J Cardiol. 1989 Feb 1;63(5):337-41.

Noninvasive evaluation of world class athletes engaged in different modes of training.

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Human Performance Research Center, Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah 84602.


This study evaluated by noninvasive methods the cardiac structure and functional characteristics of world class athletes participating in different types of training programs. Fourteen subjects, including 4 strength-trained (discus and shot put), 4 endurance-trained (long distance runners), 4 decathlon-trained (strength and endurance), 2 wheelchair athletes and 31 college-age control subjects were evaluated using electrocardiography, M-mode echocardiography and maximal oxygen consumption. M-mode echocardiography measurements of left ventricular structure and function were compared before and after normalization for lean body weight. As expected, endurance athletes had greater maximal O2 consumption than the other groups (p less than 0.05). Before normalization for lean body weight, there were no significant differences in end-diastolic dimensions. After normalization, the endurance, wheelchair and control subjects had end-diastolic dimensions larger than those of strength athletes. Strength athletes appeared to have a much larger posterior wall and septal thickness than all groups except the decathlon athletes. However, when normalized, there was no difference among any of the groups. Previous investigators have attempted to determine "normalcy" of cardiac hypertrophy by looking at the ratio of left ventricular wall thickness to left ventricular radius. In the present study, the thickness to radius ratio in strength athletes was 33% greater than that in endurance athletes. It appears that the left ventricular wall thickness in the strength athletes occurred without a concomitant increase in left ventricular radius and that the left ventricular hypertrophy of world class athletes is related to the total increase in lean body weight. However, ventricular dimensions may be related more to the type of overload experienced.

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