Are There Consequences for Having an Athlete’s Heart?

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Long-term intensive training results in changes in the heart known as “athlete’s heart”. A recent article compared the heart function of female athletes and sedentary females.

Long-term intensive training and increases in oxygen demand often lead to morphological and mechanical changes in the heart. These changes, also known as “athlete’s heart”, happen in order to meet the increased demands experienced by athletes.

In a recent article, published in Cardiovascular Ultrasound, a group of researchers in Sweden conducted a study to determine the myocardial performance index (MPI) by pulsed wave Doppler (PWD) and tissue Doppler imaging (TDI) in female athletes.  MPI is a measurement index used to assess global heart function by combining both systolic and diastolic components. A total of 32 female elite team-handball players and 34 sedentary controls were included in the study.  The female athletes participated in a training ranging from 10.8 hours per week, with an additional 1.7 hours allocated for strength training and another 1.8 hours per week for fitness training. The females included in the control group did not perform any, or only slight physical activity, which only lasted less than two hours a week. MPI was measured by using both PWD and TDI, which both use ultrasound waves.

The results show that there was no statistically significant difference found in the MPI of both female athletes and controls. Left ventricle MPI was observed to be higher than the right ventricle in both groups. More studies can be done to strengthen and confirm these findings this since this is the first study investigating MPI in both left and right ventricles in female athletes.

Written by Karla Sevilla

Reference: Alsafi, Z., et al. (2017). Myocardial performance index in female athletes. Cardiovascular Ultrasound. 15 (20). Doi:10.1186/s12947-017-0112-9



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