Prevalence and possible mechanisms of ventricular arrhythmias in athletes

Am Heart J. 1985 Sep;110(3):560-7. doi: 10.1016/0002-8703(85)90075-4.


To investigate the prevalence and nature of ventricular arrhythmias in athletes, 40 well trained healthy endurance athletes (20 cyclists and 20 runners) and 40 healthy sedentary subjects as controls were studied. Twenty four-hour continuous ECG monitoring showed a higher, even though not significant prevalence of ventricular ectopy in athletes (70% vs 55%). Complex forms of ventricular ectopy were also more prevalent in the athletes than in the controls (25% vs 5%; p less than 0.05). A prolongation of both measured QT interval and QT corrected for heart rate was observed at the ECG. Echocardiograms showed higher dimensional indices in the athletes, while functional indices were similar in athletes and controls. No correlation was found between any ECG or echocardiographic finding and the grade of ventricular arrhythmia. The comparison between the cyclists and the runners did not show any significant difference in the prevalence of ventricular arrhythmias or in the QT interval duration.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Arrhythmias, Cardiac / blood
  • Arrhythmias, Cardiac / epidemiology*
  • Bicycling
  • Cardiac Complexes, Premature / epidemiology
  • Echocardiography
  • Electrocardiography
  • Heart Rate
  • Heart Ventricles
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Monitoring, Physiologic
  • Physical Endurance
  • Running
  • Sports*