The Athlete’s Heart: Cardiovascular Disease in the Athlete

  • Jodi L. Zilinski
  • Aaron L. BaggishEmail author


With the rising popularity of recreational and competitive athletics, clinicians will benefit from an understanding of the unique physiology, clinical presentations, and management of highly trained athletes. Cardiac enlargement in athletes has been documented since the late 1800s and our understanding of the “athlete’s heart” continues to advance as cardiovascular diagnostic technology improves. The term exercise-induced cardiac remodeling has been used to describe the significant changes in myocardial structure and function that result from repeated exposure to vigorous physical exercise. In clinical practice, these adaptations can be encountered during the physical examination and are clearly manifest on the electrocardiogram and during echocardiography of trained athletes. The approach to the athlete with symptoms including chest pain, syncope, or palpitation, all common in this population, requires a careful medical history with thorough assessment of athlete-specific topics including training regimen, competition history, and inquiry about performance-enhancing agents. This review provides an up-to-date summary of the science of cardiac remodeling in athletes as well as an overview of common clinical issues that are encountered in the cardiovascular care of the athlete.


Athletes Exercise-induced cardiac remodeling Syncope Chest pain Palpitations 


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© Springer-Verlag London 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of CardiologyMassachusetts General HospitalBostonUSA

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