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Cardiac MR Imaging Reveals Changes in Elite Triathletes

Findings suggest eccentric, concentric remodeling with enlargement of ventricular, atrial chambers

MONDAY, Sept. 27 (HealthDay News) -- Cardiac magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) of elite triathletes suggests eccentric and concentric remodeling with regulative enlargement of ventricular and atrial chambers, according to research published in the October issue of Radiology.

Michael Scharf, M.D., of the University of Erlangen-Nuremberg in Germany, and colleagues analyzed data from 26 male top national triathletes and 27 non-athletic male controls who underwent cardiac MRI.

The researchers found that the athletes had greater atrial and ventricular volume and mass indexes. Nearly all of the athletes -- 25 -- had greater left ventricular (LV) and right ventricular (RV) end-diastolic volumes than normal ranges noted in the literature for healthy male non-athletes (47 to 92 mL/m² for LV and 55 to 105 mL/m² for RV). Myocardial mass was strongly correlated with end-diastolic volume, and both groups had similar mean LV and RV remodeling indexes.

"In summary, the pattern of myocardial remodeling in elite triathletes reflects the nature of the underlying training, which combines both endurance and resistance components. Cardiac adaptations in elite triathletes are characterized by a balanced increase in LV and RV myocardial mass, wall thickness, ventricular dilatation, and diastolic function. Cardiac dilatation is more pronounced in the left atrium than in the left ventricle. These findings of cardiac adaptations in elite triathletes are not associated with ventricular arrhythmias," the authors conclude.

A co-author disclosed financial relationships with Bayer-Schering, Bracco, GE Healthcare, Medrad, and Siemens.

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