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The Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness 2012 August;52(4):424-31

Copyright © 2012 EDIZIONI MINERVA MEDICA

language: English

Influence of sex on ventricular remodeling in collegiate athletes

Smith D. 1, Deblois J. 1, Wharton M. 2, Rowland T. 1, 3

1 Department of Health and Exercise Sciences, Skidmore College, Saratoga Springs, NY, USA; 2 Saratoga Hospital, Saratoga Springs, NY, USA; 3 Department of Pediatrics, Baystate Medical Center, Springfield, MA, USA


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AIM: Previous reports indicate that the “athlete’s heart” is more prominent in males than females, but the mechanisms responsible for this sex difference have not been elucidated. This study examined male-female differences in cardiac mass and volume in highly trained athletes and normally active individuals to assess the relative contributions of pre-existing sex differences and sports training to cardiac findings.
METHODS: Echocardiographic and electrocardiographic findings were compared between 20 male and 21 female collegiate athletes and 22 male and 29 female normally-active subjects.
RESULTS: Cardiac mass (per kg lean body mass) was significantly greater in the male compared to female athletes (3.62±0.55 and 3.31±0.56 g.kg-1, respectively). A similar magnitude of difference in average relative cardiac mass was observed between the normally active males and females, and cardiac mass was greater in athletic versus nonathletic groups by +14.9% in the males and +13.3% in the females. Relative left ventricular volume was greater in the male athletes (47.5±6.3 ml•BSA-1.5) compared to male nonathletes (42.9±6.1 ml•BSA-1.5); no such difference was observed in the females.
CONCLUSION: These findings suggest that sex differences in both the untrained state and magnitude of training response contribute to male-female differences in the “athlete’s heart”.

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