Echocardiographic Findings in Professional Hockey Players (Clinical Report)
The myocardial adaptations of the athlete’s heart have been well described (1). The vigorous, repetitive training regimens that athletes routinely endure lead to a number of characteristic changes, including enhanced diastolic function, larger left ventricular dimensions and mass, and right ventricular dilatation and systolic dysfunction (2). Despite a number of studies that have focused on the various physiological and morphological adaptations of the athlete’s heart, the evaluation of these patients using more progressive imaging modalities has remained limited. The recent introduction of tissue Doppler imaging has allowed for measurement of absolute tissue velocities associated with myocardial motion. This technique has led to more accurate evaluation of regional myocardial changes secondary to intense, repetitive strain and produces more reliable assessment of ventricular function (3). The objective of this study was to evaluate the physiological and structural changes in athletes whose cardiac system must not only adapt to aerobic exercise and intense strength and weight training, but also maintain the reserve necessary to accommodate sudden periods of increased cardiac output. The elite athletes chosen for this study were professional hockey players studied after an intense workout during preseason training camp.