Left atrial remodelling in competitive adolescent soccer players

Int J Sports Med. 2012 Oct;33(10):795-801. doi: 10.1055/s-0032-1304660. Epub 2012 May 4.


Left atrial (LA) enlargement and improved myocardial diastolic properties are a component of athlete's heart. We performed a longitudinal study involving adolescent athletes to investigate the impact of training on LA remodelling and diastolic function. 21 competitive adolescent soccer players were enrolled and engaged in an 8-month training program. Echocardiographic analysis was performed at baseline, after 4 and 8 months. We assessed diastolic function by Doppler tissue imaging and we analyzed LA adaptations by 2D speckle-tracking echocardiography. After 4 months, LA mean volume index significantly increased (Δ=5.47 ± 4.38 mL/m2, p ≤ 0.0001). After 8 months, a further increase occurred (Δ=8.95 ± 4.47 mL/m2, p ≤ 0.0001). A higher E velocity (p=0.001; p=0.001), a greater E/A ratio (p=0.002; p=0.0009), a higher e' peak (p= 0.005; p=0.001), and a greater e'/a' ratio (p=0.01; p=0.0006) were observed at 4 and at 8 months, respectively. E/e' ratio significantly decreased after 8 months (p ≤ 0.005). Global peak atrial longitudinal strain and global peak atrial contraction strain values significantly decreased after 8 months (p=0.0004, p=0.01, respectively). An 8-month training program is associated with LA dimensional and functional training-specific adaptations in competitive adolescent soccer players. Myocardial diastolic properties can improve after training also in subjects already presenting with features of athlete's heart.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Athletes
  • Echocardiography, Doppler, Pulsed / methods
  • Electrocardiography
  • Heart / physiology*
  • Heart Atria / diagnostic imaging
  • Humans
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Organ Size / physiology
  • Soccer / physiology*