The veteran athlete: an echocardiographic comparison of veteran cyclists, former cyclists and non-athletic subjects

Acta Physiol Scand. 1989 Mar;135(3):393-8. doi: 10.1111/j.1748-1716.1989.tb08592.x.


To determine the effects of prolonged endurance training on the heart, a comparison was made of veteran cyclists aged 41-51 years, former cyclists, and non-athletic subjects, including echocardiography, ECG, systolic and diastolic time intervals, and maximal oxygen uptake. The veterans had significantly larger diastolic diameter, systolic diameter, thickness of septum, posterior wall, and left ventricular mass. The enlargement of the left ventricle was found to be proportionate, as the ratio of diastolic diameter to wall thickness showed no change. In contrast to earlier reports, no indication of reduced cardiac function was found in the veterans, as echocardiographically measured function parameters, systolic, and diastolic time intervals were similar in the three groups. In the former athletes, whose previous training experience was similar to that of the veterans, no significant variation in cardiac structure and function was found in relation to the control group. This indicates that the physiological hypertrophy caused by physical training can be reversible.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Physiological
  • Adult
  • Bicycling*
  • Cardiomegaly / etiology
  • Cardiomegaly / physiopathology
  • Echocardiography*
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Myocardial Contraction
  • Physical Education and Training*
  • Physical Endurance
  • Sports Medicine*
  • Sports*
  • Ventricular Function