Cardiac response to prolonged, intense exercise induces phenotypic and physiologic adaptive changes that improve myocardial ability to meet oxygen demands. These adaptations, termed “athletes’ heart,” have been extensively studied. The importance of this entity arises from the increasing numbers of athletes as well as the drive for physical fitness in the general population leading to adaptive cardiac changes that need to be differentiated from life-threatening cardiovascular diseases. A number of pathologic entities may share phenotypic changes with the athletes’ heart such as hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, dilated cardiomyopathy, Marfan's syndrome, and arrhythmogenic right ventricular cardiomyopathy. Cardiologists need to be cognizant of these overlapping findings to appropriately diagnose diseases and prevent catastrophic outcomes especially in young and healthy individuals who may not show any symptoms until they engage in intense exercise. It is equally important to recognize and distinguish normal, exercise-adaptive cardiac changes to provide accurate screening and guidance to young elite athletes. Echocardiography is a valuable modality that allows comprehensive initial evaluation of cardiac structures, function, and response to exercise. Several different echocardiographic techniques including M-Mode, 2D echo, Doppler, tissue Doppler, color tissue Doppler, and speckle tracking have been used in the evaluation of cardiac adaptation to exercise. The following discussion is a review of literature that has expanded our knowledge of the athlete's heart.
- Athlete's heart
- exercise-induced cardiac remodeling
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
- Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine