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Characterization of right atrial function and dimension in top-level athletes: a speckle tracking study

  • Flavio D’AscenziEmail author
  • Matteo Cameli
  • Margherita Padeletti
  • Matteo Lisi
  • Valerio Zacà
  • Benedetta Natali
  • Angela Malandrino
  • Federico Alvino
  • Massimo Morelli
  • Gian Maria Vassallo
  • Cosetta Meniconi
  • Marco Bonifazi
  • Andrea Causarano
  • Sergio Mondillo
Original Paper

Abstract

Although many echocardiographic studies are available about the adaptation of left ventricle to intensive training, right heart function has been poorly investigated and no data are available about the right atrial (RA) function in top-level athletes. The aim of the study was to investigate RA function and dimension by standard echocardiography and 2D speckle tracking echocardiography (STE). One hundred top-levels athletes were recruited from professional sports team and were compared with 78 normal subjects. Athletes during an off-training period or during prolonged forced rest resulting from injuries were excluded. Top-level athletes had higher BSA as compared with controls and, as expected, a lower resting heart rate (p ≤ 0.001). RA area, volume, and volume index were significantly greater in athletes than in controls (p ≤ 0.001). This increase was associated with greater right ventricular and inferior vena cava diameters (p ≤ 0.001). Peak atrial longitudinal strain and peak atrial contraction strain values were significantly lower in athletes in comparison with controls (40.92 ± 9.86 % vs. 48.00 ± 12.68 %, p ≤ 0.001; 13.05 ± 4.84 % vs. 15.99 ± 5.74 %, p ≤ 0.001, respectively). Interestingly, while athletes presented a higher E/A ratio (p ≤ 0.001) and a lower peak A velocity (p ≤ 0.001), the E/e′ ratio did not differ between the two groups. In top-level athletes the RA presents a physiological adaptation to intensive exercise conditioning which determines not only a morphological but also a functional remodeling. We reported for the first time reference values of RA strain in elite athletes, demonstrating that 2D STE is a useful tool to investigate RA longitudinal myocardial deformation dynamics in athlete’s heart.

Keywords

Athlete’s heart Right heart Training Strain Volleyball players Football players Basketball players 

Notes

Acknowledgments

The authors wish to thank Ferdinando Minucci, chairman of Mens Sana Basket Club, Massimo and Valentina Mezzaroma, chairman and vice-chairwoman of Siena Football Club, and Giancarlo Campinoti, chairman of Santa Croce Volleyball Club, all members of medical and coaching staff, athletes, and managers for their support in the study.

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, B.V. 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Flavio D’Ascenzi
    • 1
    Email author
  • Matteo Cameli
    • 1
  • Margherita Padeletti
    • 1
  • Matteo Lisi
    • 1
  • Valerio Zacà
    • 1
  • Benedetta Natali
    • 1
  • Angela Malandrino
    • 1
  • Federico Alvino
    • 1
  • Massimo Morelli
    • 2
  • Gian Maria Vassallo
    • 3
  • Cosetta Meniconi
    • 3
  • Marco Bonifazi
    • 4
  • Andrea Causarano
    • 5
  • Sergio Mondillo
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Cardiovascular DiseasesUniversity of SienaSienaItaly
  2. 2.Medical Staff Santa Croce Volleyball ClubSanta Croce sull’ArnoItaly
  3. 3.Medical Staff Mens Sana Siena BasketSienaItaly
  4. 4.Department of Neurological, Neurosurgical and Behavioural SciencesUniversity of SienaSienaItaly
  5. 5.Medical Staff Siena Football ClubSienaItaly

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