The aim of the present study was to assess, using 3-dimensioanl echocardiography, the morphologic characteristics, determinants, and physiologic limits of left ventricular (LV) remodeling in 511 Olympic athletes (categorized in skill, power, mixed, and endurance sport disciplines) and 159 sedentary controls matched for age and gender. All subjects underwent 3-dimensional echocardiography for the assessment of LV volumes, ejection fraction, mass, remodeling index (LV mass/LV end-diastolic volume), and systolic dyssynchrony index (obtained by the dispersion of the time to minimum systolic volume in 16 segments). Athletes had higher LV end-diastolic volumes (157 ± 35 vs 111 ± 26 ml, p <0.001) and mass (156 ± 38 vs 111 ± 25 g, p <0.001) compared to controls. Body surface area and age had significant associations with LV end-diastolic volume (R(2) = 0.49, p <0.001) and mass (R(2) = 0.51, p <0.001). Covariance analysis showed that also gender and type of sport were significant determinants of LV remodeling; in particular, the highest impact on LV end-diastolic volume and mass was associated with male gender and endurance disciplines (p <0.001). Regardless of the type of sport, athletes had similar LV remodeling indexes to controls (1.00 ± 0.06 vs 1.01 ± 0.07 g/mL, p = 0.410). No differences were found between athletes and controls for the ejection fraction (62 ± 5% and 62 ± 5%, p = 0.746) and systolic dyssynchrony index (1.06 ± 0.40% and 1.37 ± 0.41%, p = 0.058). In conclusion, 3-dimensional echocardiographic morphologic and functional assessment of the left ventricle in Olympic athletes demonstrated a balanced adaptation of LV volume and mass, with preserved systolic function, regardless of specific disciplines participated.
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