Article Text

Download PDFPDF
Ventricular septal defect in a world class runner
  1. A Boraita1,
  2. J Esteve-Lanao2,
  3. M Pérez2,
  4. M Rabadán1,
  5. C Foster3,
  6. A Lucia2
  1. 1Department of Cardiology, Sport Medicine Center, Higher Sports Council, Madrid, Spain
  2. 2Exercise Physiology Laboratory, European University of Madrid, Madrid, Spain
  3. 3Department of Exercise and Sport Science, University of Wisconsin-La Crosse, La Crosse, WI, USA
  1. Correspondence to:
 Alejandro Lucia
 Universidad Europea de Madrid, Departamento de Ciencias Morfologicas y Fisiology, Edificio A, Despacho 330, E-18670 Madrid, Spain;


We report the case of an elite male, East African endurance runner (18 years old) who ranked in the top 15 in the World Cross Country Championships (sub 21 year old category) despite having a ventricular septal defect (VSD; width: 0.22 cm) that was diagnosed 2 weeks after this event with echocardiographic evaluation. This athlete was a moderate altitude native (∼3000 m). Cardiac dimensions were within normal limits and no significant pathological signs were observed. His Vo2max was relatively low given his performance level (67.9 ml kg−1 min−1). Despite his limited training background (only 1 year), his running economy was, however, better than the values reported in our laboratory for Caucasian runners of the same age. Further cardiological follow up might confirm that the VSD causes no pathological effects or any performance detriment in future years.

  • ECG, electrocardiographic
  • IVSTd, interventricular septal wall thickness at end-diastole
  • LAD, left atrial dimension
  • LLAD, longitudinal left atrial dimension
  • LRAD, longitudinal right atrial dimension
  • LV, left ventricle
  • LVMI, left ventricular mass index
  • RV, right ventricle
  • VSD, ventricular septal defect
  • African
  • athlete’s heart
  • echocardiography
  • economy
  • endurance runners

Statistics from

Request Permissions

If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.


  • This study was part of a project supported by the Consejo Superior de Deportes (02/UPR10/04).

  • Competing interests: none declared

  • This subject detailed in this case report gave consent for his details to be published.

    This subject was evaluated, together with other African runners, in a study that was approved by the local ethics committee (Universidad Europea, Madrid, SPAIN).

Linked Articles

  • Miscellanea
    BMJ Publishing Group Ltd and British Association of Sport and Exercise Medicine