To describe the overlap between structural abnormalities typical of arrhythmogenic right ventricular cardiomyopathy (ARVC) and physiological right ventricular adaptation to exercise and differentiate between pathologic and physiologic findings using CMR. We compared CMR studies of 43 patients (mean age 49 ± 17 years, 49% males, 32 genotyped) with a definitive diagnosis of ARVC with 97 (mean age 45 ± 16 years, 61% males) healthy athletes. CMR was abnormal in 37 (86%) patients with ARVC, but only 23 (53%) fulfilled a major or minor CMR criterion according to the TFC. 7/20 patients who did not fulfil any CMR TFC showed pathological finding (RV RWMA and fibrosis in the LV or LV RWMA). RV was affected in isolation in 17 (39%) patients and 18 (42%) patients showed biventricular involvement. Common RV abnormalities included RWMA (n = 34; 79%), RV dilatation (n = 18; 42%), RV systolic dysfunction (≤ 45%) (n = 17; 40%) and RV LGE (n = 13; 30%). The predominant LV abnormality was LGE (n = 20; 47%). 22/32 (69%) patients exhibited a pathogenic variant: PKP2 (n = 17, 53%), DSP (n = 4, 13%) and DSC2 (n = 1, 3%). Sixteen (16%) athletes exceeded TFC cut-off values for RV volumes. None of the athletes exceeded a RV/LV end-diastolic volume ratio > 1.2, nor fulfilled TFC for impaired RV ejection fraction. The majority (86%) of ARVC patients demonstrate CMR abnormalities suggestive of cardiomyopathy but only 53% fulfil at least one of the CMR TFC. LV involvement is found in 50% cases. In athletes, an RV/LV end-diastolic volume ratio > 1.2 and impaired RV function (RVEF ≤ 45%) are strong predictors of pathology.
Keywords: Arrhythmogenic cardiomyopathy; Athlete’s heart; Cardiac magnetic resonance.
© 2022. The Author(s), under exclusive licence to Springer Nature B.V.