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Indexed/Abstracted in: Chemical Abstracts, CINAHL, Current Contents/Clinical Medicine, EMBASE, PubMed/MEDLINE, Science Citation Index Expanded (SciSearch), Scopus
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Pigozzi F. 1, Alabiso A. 1, Parisi A. 1, Di Salvo V. 1, Di Luigi L. 1, Iellamo F. 2
1 University Institute of Movement Sciences of Rome, Rome, Italy
2 Department of Internal Medicine, “S. Raffaele” Cardiac Rehabilitation Center, “Tor Vergata” University of Rome, Rome, Italy
Aim. Physical activity, when vigorous, is not devoided of arrhythmic risk. Since the risk of developing arrhythmias increase as an otherwise healthy person ages, the question arises as to whether high intensity physical activity could be dangerous in the elderly person. The present study addressed the incidence of arrhythmias in elderly athletes in comparison to age-matched control subjects.
Methods. We studied 49 male athletes engaged in various sport disciplines, mean age 62.3±2.3 and 24 sedentary or moderately physically active healthy males, mean age 62.9±1.7 years (Controls). All subjects underwent 2-D, M-mode and Doppler echocardiographic examination, resting ECG and exercise stress test followed by 24-hour electrocardiographic monitoring.
Results. No pathological findings were detected in both experimental groups at echocardiographic examination. Exercise performance was greater in athletes than controls (206.9±5.2 vs 156.3±12 watt, p<0.01). During exercise test, no significant between-groups difference was detected in the incidence of ventricular arrhythmias, that is multiple premature ventricular contractions (MPVC), polymorphous premature ventricular contractions (PPVC) and repetitive premature ventricular contractions (RPVC). No subject featured horizontal or downsloping ST segment depression in both groups. At 24-hour electrocardiographic monitoring the incidence of the overall number of premature ventricular contractions was significantly greater in controls than athletes (87.0% vs 63.3%, p<0.05), whereas no significant difference were detected in the incidence of discrete ventricular arrhythmias between athletes (4.1% MPVC, 14.3% PPVC, 8.2% couplets) and controls (0.5% MPVC, 16.7% PPVC, 12.5% couplets).
Conclusion. These finding indicate that in elderly, otherwise healthy, athletes vigorous training even to competition does not result in a greater incidence of ventricular arrhythmias, although caution should be made for a careful preparticipation evaluation.