Background: Athlete's heart is a common definition for a broad spectrum of adaptations induced by intense exercise. We intended to compare left ventricular (LV) mechanics in two sports disciplines with different exercise nature: marathon runners (endurance) and bodybuilders (power). Methods: 24 marathon or ultramarathon runners (R), 14 bodybuilders (B) and 15 healthy, sedentary male volunteers (N) were investigated. Beyond standard echocardiographic protocol, parasternal short-axis and apical recordings optimized for speckle tracking analysis were acquired (Esaote MyLab 25). Using dedicated software (TomTec 2D Performance Analysis), global longitudinal (GLS), circumferential (GCS) and radial strain (GRS) were calculated by averaging the corresponding 16 LV segments. Data are presented as mean ± SD. Results: Calculated LV mass was higher in bodybuilders compared to normal controls (R vs. B vs. N: 198 ± 52 vs. 224 ± 69 vs. 186 ± 30 g, p < 0.05). We found no difference regarding conventional systolic function parameters among the groups (ejection fraction: 55 ± 9 vs. 60 ± 6 vs. 59 ± 5%; mitral lateral S' velocity: 10.7 ± 0.6 vs. 10.6 ± 0.4 vs. 11.0 ± 0.8 cm/s). However, speckle tracking analysis showed a different pattern of myocardial deformation in our groups: while GRS was similar, GLS was decreased in runners, GCS was decreased in bodybuilders compared to the other two groups (GLS: -19.4 ± 3.4 vs. -23.3 ± 2.1 vs. -24.1 ± 3.0; GCS: -26.6 ± 3.8 vs. -22.4 ± 4.3 vs. -26.4 ± 2.7%, p < 0.05). Significant correlations were found in runners between GLS and end-diastolic volume (r = 0.46; p < 0.05), and body surface area (r = 0.49; p < 0.05). In bodybuilders, GCS was closely related to LV mass (r = 0.61; p < 0.01) and systolic blood pressure (r = 0.42; p < 0.05). Conclusions: While conventional morphological and functional echocardiographic parameters failed to distinguish between the athlete's heart of the two different sport disciplines, deformation parameters showed a different pattern of LV mechanics in runners versus bodybuilders.
- Athlete's heart
- Speckle tracking
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
- Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine