There is still some controversy about the benignity of structural changes observed in athlete’s heart, especially regarding the observation of increased biomarkers and the presence of myocardial fibrosis (MF).
Aim Our purpose was to evaluate by cardiovascular magnetic resonance (CMR) the presence of diffuse as well as focal MF in a series of high-performance veteran endurance athletes.
Methods Thirty-four veteran healthy male endurance athletes, still being in regular training, with more than 10 years of training underwent a CMR. A cardiopulmonary exercise test was also performed to assess their maximal physical performance. The control group consisted in 12 non-trained normal individuals.
Results We found an increase in both, right and left ventricular (LV) volumes in the athlete’s group when compared with controls. There was no increase in indexed LV myocardial mass despite of a significantly increased maximal myocardial wall thickness in comparison to controls. Native T1 values and extracellular volume (ECV) were normal in all cases. We did not find differences in native T1 values and ECV between both groups. In three athletes (9%), non-ischaemic late gadolinium enhancement (LGE) was observed. We did not find a correlation between total training volume and presence of LGE or with the ECV value.
Conclusions Our results show that the majority of veteran endurance athletes present with myocardial remodelling without MF as a physiological adaptive phenomenon. In the only three athletes with focal MF, the LGE pattern observed suggests an intercurrent event not related with the remodelling phenomenon.
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Contributors Conception and study design: SP, FC and RS-G. Data collection: MD, AC and XA. Data analysis: C-HL. Interpretation of data and results: SP, FC and SM. Writing the draft: SP and SM. Reviewing manuscript: FC and GP-L. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.
Competing interests None declared.
Patient consent Obtained.
Ethics approval The study was approved the ethics committee of Institut de Recerca of Hospital de Sant Pau: IIBSP-ATL-2017-91
Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.
Data sharing statement All data analysed during this study are included in this published article.
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