Adaptations to left ventricular (LV) structure and function appear to be dependent on the type, intensity and duration of exercise training. We therefore studied two clearly defined groups of elite athletes, by M-mode and Doppler echocardiography, with a group of inactive individuals as controls. All groups were age matched. Group 1 comprised ten elite endurance athletes with maximal oxygen consumption (VO2 max) of 74.7 +/- 1.43 (mean +/- SEM). Group 2 consisted of ten elite weightlifters with VO2 max 45.3 +/- 2.00. Group 3 comprised of ten inactive individuals with VO2 max 44.5 +/- 2.13. Left ventricular end diastolic dimension was significantly higher in group 1 (5.72 +/- 0.07) than in groups 2 or 3 (5.29 +/- 0.09 and 5.19 +/- 0.09 respectively, p less than 0.001). Left ventricular mass index was significantly higher in groups 1 and 2 (156.4 +/- 5.97 and 138.6 +/- 7.27 respectively) than in group 3 (104.1 +/- 3.16 p less than 0.001). Percentage fractional shortening was used as an index of systolic function and no significant difference was found between groups. Doppler E:A ratio was taken as an index of diastolic function and was found to be significantly elevated in group 1 at rest (3.37 +/- 0.24) compared with 2.38 +/- 0.16 and 1.99 +/- 0.10 in groups 2 and 3 respectively (p less than 0.003). On exercise, the E:A ratio in group 1 was significantly higher than in group 3 (1.95 +/- 0.14 and 1.23 +/- 0.05 respectively p less than 0.001), and tended to be higher than group 2 (1.68 +/- 0.15 p = ns). These data show that both modes of intense training produce left ventricular hypertrophy. Diastolic function is not impaired in the athletes and may be augmented in the endurance athletes.
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