Left ventricular mass and oxygen uptake in top handball athletes

Int J Sports Med. 2013 Mar;34(3):200-6. doi: 10.1055/s-0032-1316313. Epub 2012 Sep 12.


The key challenge in athlete's screening is the distinction between abnormal and normal which is hindered by the fact that the adaptation to sports activity in endurance athletes is different to that in power athletes. Especially cardiomyopathies provoke changes in ECG and echocardiography (echo) at an early stage when clinical symptoms are absent. ECG and echo data and their relationship to fitness peculiar to top handball players have never been described. We studied 291 male first league handball players (32 Olympians/47 national players) (25.3±4.4 years). Check up consisted of ECG, spiroergometry and echocardiography. None had T-wave inversions, 3.1% showed early repolarisation abnormalities in the precordial leads. Sokolow-Lyon voltage criterion for left ventricular hypertrophy was positive in 19.3%. Spiroergometry showed a maximum oxygen uptake (peakVO₂) of 50.3±7.7 ml/min/kg body weight. LVmass was increased in comparison to normal values. There was a correlation between peakVO₂ and LVindex (p<0.001, r=0.341), (LVmass/peak VO₂ p=0.053, r=0.125). A relationship between cardiac dimensions and peakVO₂ could not be confirmed. In professional handball players early repolarisation abnormalities were less frequent and LVmass was increased when compared with soccer players. The need for normal values for different types of sports is crucial to guarantee a proper evaluation of athletes.

Publication types

  • Evaluation Study

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Blood Pressure Determination
  • Cardiomyopathies / diagnosis*
  • Electrocardiography
  • Exercise Test
  • Humans
  • Hypertrophy, Left Ventricular / diagnosis*
  • Hypertrophy, Left Ventricular / diagnostic imaging
  • Hypertrophy, Left Ventricular / physiopathology
  • Male
  • Oxygen Consumption*
  • Physical Fitness
  • Reference Values
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Spirometry
  • Sports / physiology*
  • Ultrasonography
  • Young Adult