Training intensity influences left ventricular dimensions in young competitive athletes.

Weberruß H; Baumgartner L; Mühlbauer F; Shehu N; Oberhoffer-Fritz R;

Frontiers in cardiovascular medicine [Front Cardiovasc Med] 2022 Oct 06; Vol. 9, pp. 961979.
Date of Electronic Publication: 2022 Oct 06 (Print Publication: 2022).

Background: In young athletes, exercise causes changes in the heart that include growth in wall thickness and mass of the left ventricle and expansion of the heart’s chambers. The heart’s function is either preserved or enhanced, but this may change to the opposite over time.
Objective: This study aimed to assess structural and functional cardiac adaptations in relation to exercise training time, intensity, and performance in young competitive athletes.
Methods: A total of 404 children and adolescents (14.23 ± 2.0 years, 97 females) were enrolled in the Munich Cardiovascular Adaptations in Young Athletes Study (MuCAYA-Study). Eighty-five participants were examined two times a year. Two-dimensional echocardiography was performed to assess left ventricular structure and function. Training time and intensity was measured with the MoMo physical activity questionnaire, maximum aerobic capacity by cardiopulmonary exercise testing, and strength with the handgrip strength test.
Results: Maximum aerobic capacity significantly influenced interventricular septal thickness in diastole. Training intensity significantly influenced left ventricular internal diameter in diastole and systole, and left ventricular mass indexed to body surface area. Within one year, interventricular wall thickness, relative wall thickness and left ventricular mass, indexed to body surface area and height, increased significantly. Training intensity and aerobic capacity contributed to cardiac adaptations in young competitive athletes, as represented by altered structural parameters but preserved cardiac function. Within a year, however, structural changes and a decline in diastolic performance were observed within the longitudinal sub-sample.
Conclusion: Our results confirm the hypothesis that cardiac adaptations to exercise occur at a young age. Cardiac adaptation in our cohort was influenced by exercise intensity and maximum aerobic capacity.