Aim: The aim of this study was to assess the impact of long-term physical training on left ventricular longitudinal contraction by strain rate analysis and tissue tracking imaging.
Methods and results: The study population comprised 17 male elite endurance and 15 male elite strength athletes and 12 male control subjects of similar age. Tissue Doppler imaging was recorded in the apical views and used for analysis of the longitudinal systolic myocardial velocity, annular diastolic velocities, strain rate and tissue tracking. Left ventricular mass index was significantly increased in both endurance athletes (209+/-40 g/m(2)) and strength athletes (138+/-38 g/m(2)) compared with normal subjects (96+/-20 g/m(2), P<0.001). Tissue tracking score index and mean strain rate of the 16 segments were significantly increased in strength athletes (7.9+/-1.1 mm and -1.4+/-0.3 s(-1), respectively) compared with endurance athletes (7.5+/-0.9 mm and -1.0+/-0.4 s(-1), P<0.01 for both) and normal subjects (7.4+/-1.0 mm and -1.0+/-0.3 s(-1), P<0.01 for both).
Conclusion: Despite significant left ventricular hypertrophy and extensive training in elite athletes, we found normal longitudinal left ventricular systolic function, and in strength athletes performing isometric exercise even increased function.