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Most Arrhythmias in Athletes Originate in Right Ventricle

Most have mildly dysfunctional right ventricles

MONDAY, Jan. 22 (HealthDay News) -- Most high-endurance athletes with ventricular arrhythmias have mildly dysfunctional right ventricles, according to study findings published online Jan. 22 in the European Heart Journal.

Hein Heidbuchel, M.D., Ph.D., and colleagues from the University of Leuven in Belgium performed biplane right ventricle angiography on 22 male high-endurance athletes referred for ventricular arrhythmia, 15 matched athletes without arrhythmia and 10 non-athletes without arrhythmia. Athletes were classified as such if they participated in intense endurance sports for two hours at least three times a week for at least five years.

The researchers found that while only 27 percent of athletes with arrhythmia could be diagnosed with arrhythmogenic right ventricular cardiomyopathy, a known cause of arrhythmias in athletes, 82 percent had arrhythmias probably or definitely originating from the right ventricle. Athletes with arrhythmia had a lower right ventricle ejection fraction and a lower right ventricle outflow tract shortening fraction compared with athletes without arrhythmia due to a significantly higher right ventricle end-systolic volume.

"Ventricular arrhythmias in high-level endurance athletes frequently originate from a mildly dysfunctional right ventricle," Heidbuchel and colleagues conclude. "This raises the question whether endurance exercise not only acts as a trigger for these arrhythmias but also as promoter of the right ventricle changes."

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