Long-term regular exercise is associated with physiologic and morphologic cardiac alterations. Tissue Doppler imaging (TDI) and ventricular early flow propagation velocity (Vp) are new tolls in the evaluation of myocardial function. We sought to compare TDI and Vp findings in professional football players and age-adjusted sedentary controls to assess the effect of regular athletic training on myocardial function.
Twenty-four professional football players and age-, sex-, and weight-adjusted 20 control subjects underwent standard Doppler echocardiography pulsed TDI, performed parasternal four-chamber views by placing sample volume septal and lateral side of mitral annulus and lateral tricuspid annulus. Vp values were obtained by measuring the slope delineated by first aliasing velocity from the mitral tips toward the apex by using apical four-chamber color M-mode Doppler images.
Age, body surface area, blood pressure, and heart rate were comparable between two groups. Football players had significantly increased LV mass, mass index (due to both higher wall thickness and end-diastolic diameter), end-systolic and end-diastolic volume, left atrial diameter, and decreased transmitral diastolic late velocity. In athletes TDI analysis showed significantly increased mitral annulus septal DTI peak early diastolic (e) velocity (0.22 +/- 0.04 vs 0.19 +/- 0.04, P < 0.05), lateral DTI peak e velocity (0.19 +/- 0.03 vs 0.16 +/- 0.02, P < 0.05) and lateral DTI e/a peak velocity ratio (1.96 +/- 0.41 and 1.66 +/- 0.23, P < 0.05). The ratio of transmitral peak early diastolic velocity (E) to e in both lateral (4.72 +/- 1.20 vs 5.95 +/- 1.38, P = 0.007) and septal (3.90 +/- 0.80 vs 5.25 +/- 1.50, P = 0.002) side of mitral annulus were significantly lower in athletes. In Vp evaluation, we found higher Vp values (60.52 +/- 6.95 in athletes and 56.56 +/- 4.24 in controls, P = 0.03) in football players.
Professional football playing is associated with morphologic alteration in left ventricle and left atrium and improvement in left ventricle diastolic function that can be detected by TDI and Vp. These techniques may be new tools to define and quantitate the degree of LV diastolic adaptations to endurance exercise.