Athlete's Heart: Is the Morganroth Hypothesis Obsolete?

Heart Lung Circ. 2018 Sep;27(9):1037-1041. doi: 10.1016/j.hlc.2018.04.289. Epub 2018 May 1.


In 1975, Morganroth and colleagues reported that the increased left ventricular (LV) mass in highly trained endurance athletes versus nonathletes was primarily due to increased end-diastolic volume while the increased LV mass in resistance trained athletes was solely due to an increased LV wall thickness. Based on the divergent remodelling patterns observed, Morganroth and colleagues hypothesised that the increased "volume" load during endurance exercise may be similar to that which occurs in patients with mitral or aortic regurgitation while the "pressure" load associated with performing a Valsalva manoeuvre (VM) during resistance exercise may mimic the stress imposed on the heart by systemic hypertension or aortic stenosis. Despite widespread acceptance of the four-decade old Morganroth hypothesis in sports cardiology, some investigators have questioned whether such a divergent "athlete's heart" phenotype exists. Given this uncertainty, the purpose of this brief review is to re-evaluate the Morganroth hypothesis regarding: i) the acute effects of resistance exercise performed with a brief VM on LV wall stress, and the patterns of LV remodelling in resistance-trained athletes; ii) the acute effects of endurance exercise on biventricular wall stress, and the time course and pattern of LV and right ventricular (RV) remodelling with endurance training; and iii) the value of comparing "loading" conditions between athletes and patients with cardiac pathology.

Keywords: Athlete’s heart; Morganroth hypothesis; Wall stress.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Athletes
  • Cardiomegaly / diagnosis
  • Cardiomegaly / physiopathology*
  • Echocardiography
  • Exercise*
  • Heart Ventricles / diagnostic imaging
  • Heart Ventricles / physiopathology*
  • Humans
  • Ventricular Function, Left / physiology*
  • Ventricular Function, Right / physiology*
  • Ventricular Remodeling*