Increased sympathetic activity can cause repolarization instability in athlete's heart

Zsolt Komka, E. Bosnyák, E. Trájer, A. Protzner, Zs Major, G. Pavlik, M. Tóth, A. Udvardy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Sudden cardiac death (SCD) of athletes usually occurs during warm-up or shortly after training. At this point sympathetic tone is still elevated but oxygen demand does not differ from resting levels. It is supposed not to have a primarily ischemic origin but most likely relates to repolarization abnormalities which can be associated with intracellular cAMP level caused by increased sympathetic tone. The mediators of sympathetic nervous system are the catecholamines (epinephrin, norepinephrin). Measuring QT-dispersion can show the repolarization's inhomogeneity. 27 elite soccer players, 28 triathletes and 29 non-trained control person took part in our study. It was recorded cardiac ultrasound, an ECG and taken blood before and after exercise. We found significantly higher QT-dispersion and catecholamines in soccer players compared to the triathletes and the controls. However the soccer players did not show larger athlete's heart than the triathletes. After exercise the increased repolarization inhomogeneity persisted in soccer players, but in triathletes it decreased. Increased sympathetic tone in athletes can enhance arrhythmia propensity. Our data may explain why the soccer players die of sudden cardiac death most commonly in Europe.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)134-137
Number of pages4
JournalInterventional Medicine and Applied Science
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Sep 1 2011


  • QT-dispersion
  • arrhythmia
  • athlete's heart
  • catecholamine
  • epinephrin
  • norepinephrin
  • repolarization abnormality
  • sudden death

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)

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