Echocardiographic findings in professional hockey players

Proc (Bayl Univ Med Cent). 2009 Jul;22(3):218-20. doi: 10.1080/08998280.2009.11928518.


Tissue Doppler imaging was used to evaluate the physiological and morphological response in athletes whose cardiac system must not only adapt to intense cardiovascular demands but also support sudden, transient changes in cardiac output. A total of 45 professional hockey players with a mean age of 24 years underwent a baseline transthoracic echocardiographic protocol after a typical morning workout; 12 healthy age- and gender-matched controls were evaluated as a means of comparison. The athletes in this study possessed larger left ventricular diastolic and systolic dimensions than the control group (5.5 ± 0.4 vs 4.9 ± 0.4 cm and 3.9 ± 0.4 vs 3.3 ± 0.4 cm, P < 0.0001). The increase in athletes' septal and posterior wall thickness was not substantial, nor was there a significant difference in left ventricular ejection fraction. The athletes demonstrated consistently larger left ventricular end-diastolic volume (196 ± 34 vs 136 ± 23 mL, P < 0.001) and end-systolic volume (87 ± 20 vs 57 ± 12 mL, P < 0.0001). They also had lower annular septal and lateral early diastolic and systolic tissue Doppler velocities compared with the control group. Thus, characteristic myocardial changes previously reported in elite athletes were also represented in professional hockey players. The lower left ventricular tissue Doppler velocities was a relatively unique finding and probably a consequence of lower postexertion preload levels compared with controls who were measured at rest.