Background: The differentiation between physiological cardiac enlargement and cardiomyopathy is crucial, considering that most young non-traumatic deaths in sport are due to cardiomyopathy. Currently, there are few data relating to cardiac dimensions in junior elite tennis players. The aim of this study was to define the upper limits of left ventricular dimensions in a large cohort of national adolescent tennis players.
Methods: Between 1996 and 2003, 259 adolescent tennis players (152 males), mean (SD) age 14.8 (1.4) years (range 13–19) and 86 healthy age, gender and body surface matched sedentary controls underwent 12-lead ECG and 2D-transthoracic echocardiography.
Results: Inter-ventricular septal end diastolic dimension (IVSd), left ventricular end diastolic dimension (LVEDd) and left ventricular end diastolic posterior wall dimension (LVPWd) in tennis players were significantly higher than in controls (8.9 mm vs 8.3 mm p<0.001, 48.9 mm vs 47.9 mm p<0.05 and 9 mm vs 8.3 mm p<0.001 respectively), however in absolute terms, the difference did not exceed 7%. None of the tennis players had a wall thickness exceeding 12 mm or a left ventricular cavity size exceeding 60 mm.
Conclusions: Tennis players exhibit modest increases in cardiac dimensions, which do not resemble those seen in individuals with cardiomyopathy affecting the left ventricle.
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