Ambulatory electrocardiographic findings in top athletes, athletic students and control subjects

Cardiology. 1994;84(1):42-50. doi: 10.1159/000176327.


Aim of the present study was to evaluate 24 h electrocardiographic recording in 30 top athletes, 30 athletic students and 30 sedentary control subjects. Each group consisted of 15 males and 15 females and were matched for age (about 24 years). Training was not allowed during the recording. Top athletes had the lowest diurnal and nocturnal heart rate, but the difference between top athletes and athletic students was far less pronounced than between athletic students and controls. This may indicate that bradycardia reaches a lower limit with moderate degrees of training. Atrioventricular (AV) block II was found in 3 top athletes and 4 athletic students and in none of the subjects, the longest pause being 2.4 s in both athletic groups. Most episodes occurred during night and nearly all were Mobitz type I. In all cases of AV block II the QRS complexes were narrow and AV block III did not occur. SA block was found in 3 top athletes, 1 athletic student and 1 control subject, the longest pause being 3.1, 2.9 and 1.9 s, respectively. Ventricular premature beats were rare in all groups and complex ventricular arrhythmias were not found. Half of the subjects were in Lown class 0, the other half in Lown class 1. Supraventricular premature beats were also scarce and most frequent in top athletes, followed by athletic students and sedentary controls (2.0, 1.0, 0.7 beats/h, respectively).

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Arrhythmias, Cardiac / physiopathology*
  • Bradycardia / physiopathology
  • Electrocardiography, Ambulatory*
  • Female
  • Heart Block / physiopathology*
  • Heart Conduction System / physiology
  • Heart Rate / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Physical Education and Training
  • Physical Endurance / physiology
  • Physical Fitness / physiology
  • Sinoatrial Block / physiopathology
  • Sports / physiology*
  • Tachycardia, Supraventricular / physiopathology