European heart journal vol:8 issue:12 pages:1305-11
Nine female runners and 9 matched control subjects were investigated with echocardiography and Doppler velocimetry to assess cardiac structure and systolic and diastolic left ventricular (LV) function at rest. LV mass was considerably larger in the athletes (171 vs 123 g; P less than 0.01). Minute distance, the Doppler index of cardiac output, was similar in runners and controls; the lower heart rate (P less than 0.01) of the athletes was associated with a higher stroke distance (P less than 0.05). The latter could be attributed to a larger end-diastolic LV internal diameter (46 vs 43 mm; P less than 0.05); wall stress and the various indices of systolic LV function were not different between runners and controls. Early diastolic LV function, estimated from the velocity of LV relaxation and the LV inflow pattern, and late diastolic function, assessed by Doppler velocimetry, were similar in runners and controls. The unchanged ratio of the peak velocities of LV filling during atrial contraction and early filling (0.49 vs 0.44; NS) indicates that LV distensibility is unaltered in the athletes. In conclusion, the higher left ventricular mass of female runners is not associated with changes of systolic and diastolic LV function.