Article Text

Download PDFPDF
Cardiac adaptation to exercise in adolescent athletes of African ethnicity: an emergent elite athletic population
  1. Nabeel Sheikh1,2,
  2. Michael Papadakis1,2,
  3. Francois Carre3,
  4. Gaelle Kervio3,
  5. Vasilis F Panoulas2,
  6. Saqib Ghani1,2,
  7. Abbas Zaidi1,2,
  8. Sabiha Gati1,2,
  9. John Rawlins1,2,
  10. Mathew G Wilson4,
  11. Sanjay Sharma1,2
  1. 1Department of Cardiovascular Sciences, St. George's University of London, London, UK
  2. 2Department of Cardiology, University Hospital Lewisham, London, UK
  3. 3Unite Biologie et Medecine du Sport, Rennes University, Pontchaillou Hospital, French Institute of Health and Medical Research (INSERM), U642, Rennes F-35000, France
  4. 4Department of Sports Medicine, ASPETAR—Qatar Orthopaedic and Sports Medicine Hospital, Doha, Qatar
  1. Correspondence to Sanjay Sharma, Department of Cardiovascular Sciences, St. George's University of London, Cranmer Terrace, London SW17 0RE, UK; ssharma21{at}


Background/aims Adult black athletes (BA) exhibit left ventricular hypertrophy (LVH) on echocardiography and marked ECG repolarisation changes resembling those observed in hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM). Limited data are available for adolescent BA, the group most vulnerable to exercise-related sudden cardiac death.

Methods Between 1996 and 2011, 245 male and 84 female adolescent BA from a wide variety of sporting disciplines underwent cardiac evaluation including ECG and echocardiography. Athletes exhibiting T-wave inversions and/or echocardiographic LVH were investigated further for quiescent cardiomyopathies. Results were compared with 903 adolescent white athletes (WA) and 134 adolescent sedentary black controls (BC).

Results LVH on echocardiography was present in 7% of BA compared to only 0.6% of WA and none of the BC. In the very young (<16 years), 5.5% of BA, but none of the WA, demonstrated LVH. Within the BA group, LVH was more prevalent in men compared to women (9% vs 1.2%, p=0.012). T-wave inversions were present in 22.8% BA, 4.5% WA and 13.4% BC. T-wave inversions in BA occurred with similar frequency in men and women and were predominantly confined to leads V1–V4. T-wave inversions in the lateral leads, commonly associated with cardiomyopathies, were present in 2.4% of BA. On a further evaluation and mean follow-up of 8.3 years, none of the athletes exhibited HCM.

Conclusions Athletic training has a pronounced effect on adolescent BA. Black athletes as young as 14 years of age may exhibit left ventricular wall thicknesses of 15 mm and marked repolarisation changes resembling HCM. Male and female BA demonstrate a high prevalence of T-wave inversions.

  • Cardiology prevention
  • Exercise physiology
  • Evaluation
  • Cardiology

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.