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The Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness 2004 March;44(1):92-7

Copyright © 2009 EDIZIONI MINERVA MEDICA

language: English

Vigorous exercise training is not associated with prevalence of ventricular arrhythmias in elderly athletes

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


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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.

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