Right atrial and ventricular adaptations to training in male Caucasian athletes: an echocardiographic study

J Am Soc Echocardiogr. 2013 Nov;26(11):1344-52. doi: 10.1016/j.echo.2013.07.019. Epub 2013 Aug 24.


Background: The aim of this study was to investigate the systolic and diastolic properties of the right cardiac chambers (the right ventricle and right atrium) among different subsets of athletes to unveil potential variations in right ventricular and right atrial remodeling secondary to different training modes.

Methods: A cohort of Caucasian male top-level athletes (n = 108; 80 endurance athletes [EAs], mean age, 31.2 ± 10.4 years; 28 strength-trained athletes [SAs], mean age, 27.4 ± 5.7 years) and untrained controls (n = 26; mean age, 26.6 ± 5.6 years) (P = .327) were prospectively enrolled. Conventional echocardiographic parameters, including transtricuspid inflow, Doppler tissue imaging, and two-dimensionally derived peak systolic longitudinal strain and strain rate indices of the right ventricle and right atrium, were calculated.

Results: EAs had greater internal right ventricular and right atrial dimensions compared with SAs and controls. There were no significant differences concerning strain between groups (-23.1 ± 3.7% in EAs vs -25.1 ± 3.2% in SAs vs -23.1 ± 3.5% in controls, P = .052), with SAs presenting higher global systolic strain rates (-1.42 ± 0.22 sec(-1) in SAs vs -1.21 ± 0.21 sec(-1) in EAs vs -1.2 ± 0.28 sec(-1) in controls, P = .016), as well as greater right atrial strain rate systolic and diastolic components. Training volume (highly vs moderately trained athletes) did not significantly influence deformation parameters. No significant differences concerning diastolic transtricuspid inflow and Doppler tissue imaging indices were also noted among different athlete groups and controls.

Conclusions: Despite the existence of right geometric alterations in athletes participating in different sport disciplines, few meaningful differences in deformation and diastolic function exist.

Keywords: 2D; ARVC; Arrhythmogenic right ventricular cardiomyopathy; Athlete's heart; BSA; Body surface area; DTI; Doppler tissue imaging; EA; Endurance athlete; FAC; Fractional area change; LV; Left ventricular; PALS; Peak atrial longitudinal strain; RA; RV; Right atrial; Right cardiac cavities; Right ventricular; SA; SR; SRS'; Speckle-tracking echocardiography; Strain rate; Strength-trained athlete; Systolic strain rate; Two-dimensional.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Physiological / physiology
  • Adult
  • Atrial Function / physiology*
  • Cohort Studies
  • Echocardiography / statistics & numerical data*
  • Greece / epidemiology
  • Heart Atria / diagnostic imaging*
  • Heart Ventricles / diagnostic imaging*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Physical Conditioning, Human / methods
  • Physical Conditioning, Human / statistics & numerical data*
  • Reference Values
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Sports / physiology*
  • Ventricular Function, Right / physiology*
  • White People / statistics & numerical data