Left ventricular dimensions and mechanics in distance runners

Am Heart J. 1986 Dec;112(6):1251-6. doi: 10.1016/0002-8703(86)90356-x.


We assessed heart size and mechanics at rest in highly trained distance runners. By means of two-dimensional echocardiography, we compared 62 runners (greater than 40 miles/week) and 84 nonrunners. Left ventricular end-diastolic volume index and mass index were larger in runners than in nonrunners (p less than 0.001) and in men than in women (p less than 0.001). However, left ventricular end-diastolic and end-systolic volume/mass ratios were similar for runners and nonrunners. Noninvasive estimates of end-systolic and peak-systolic meridional and circumferential wall stresses were lower in runners than in nonrunners (p less than 0.001). Lower wall stress resulted from lower myocardial area/cavity area ratios, and thus 'average' radius/thickness ratios (measured from the parasternal short-axis view), in runners than in nonrunners (p less than 0.001). We detected a subtle change in ventricular shape among the distance runners. Basilar hypertrophy accounted for increased myocardial thickness with normal cavity size in the parasternal short-axis view, as might be expected in hearts working under sustained pressure elevations during prolonged training periods. However, cavity length and therefore ventricular volume were increased in the apical views, leading to a normal overall volume/mass ratio. These hearts have thus adjusted to periods of volume, as well as to pressure overload. Race performance is determined by a complex interaction between the heart, vascular, and skeletal muscle systems. In this study no parameter of myocardial size or function predicted 10 km or marathon race times, just as no physical characteristic or training record predicted left ventricular mass, end-diastolic or end-systolic volume.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Biomechanical Phenomena
  • Echocardiography / methods
  • Exercise Test
  • Female
  • Heart / anatomy & histology*
  • Heart / physiology
  • Heart Ventricles / anatomy & histology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Organ Size
  • Reference Values
  • Running*
  • Sex Characteristics
  • Stroke Volume
  • Systole
  • Ventricular Function