Article

Detection of Cardiovascular Disease in Elite Athletes Using Cardiac Magnetic Resonance Imaging

Department of Diagnostic and Interventional Radiology, University of Tuebingen.
RöFo - Fortschritte auf dem Gebiet der R (Impact Factor: 1.96). 07/2013; 185(12). DOI: 10.1055/s-0033-1350130
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Purpose: Sudden cardiac death [SCD] in competitive athletes is caused by a diverse set of cardiovascular diseases such as hypertrophic and dilated cardiomyopathy [HCM/DCM], myocarditis, coronary anomalies or even coronary artery disease. In order to identify potential risk factors responsible for SCD, elite athletes underwent cardiac magnetic resonance [CMR] imaging.Materials and Methods: 73 male [M] and 22 female [F] athletes (mean age 35.2 ± 11.4 years) underwent CMR imaging. ECG-gated breath-hold cine SSFP sequences were used for the evaluation of wall motion abnormalities and myocardial hypertrophy as well as for quantitative analysis (left and right ventricular [LV, RV] end-diastolic and end-systolic volume [EDV, ESV], stroke volume [SV], ejection fraction [EF] and myocardial mass [MM]). Furthermore, left and right atrial sizes were assessed by planimetry and delayed enhancement imaging was performed 10 minutes after the application of contrast agent. Coronary arteries were depicted using free-breathing Flash-3 D MR angiography.Results: The quantitative analyses showed eccentric hypertrophy of the left ventricle (remodeling index [MM/LV-EDV]: M 0.75, F 0.665), enlargement of the RV volumes (RV-EDV: M 122.6 ± 19.0 ml/m², F 99.9 ± 7.2 ml/m²) and an increased SV (LV-SV: M 64.7 ± 10.0 ml/m², F 56.5 ± 5.7 ml/m²; RV-SV; M 66.7 ± 10.4 ml/m², F 54.2 ± 7.1 ml/m²). Abnormal findings were detected in 6 athletes (6.3 %) including one benign variant of coronary anomaly and abnormal late gadolinium enhancement in 2 cases. None of the athletes showed wall motion abnormalities or signs of myocardial ischemia.Conclusion: CMR imaging of endurance athletes revealed abnormal findings in more than 5 % of the athletes. However, the prognostic significance remains unclear. Thus, cardiac MRI cannot be recommended as a routine examination in the care of athletes.Key points:Citation Format:

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    ABSTRACT: The term 'athlete's heart' refers to a clinical picture characterized by a slow heart rate and enlargement of the heart. A multi-modality imaging approach to the athlete's heart aims to differentiate physiological changes due to intensive training in the athlete's heart from serious cardiac diseases with similar morphological features. Imaging assessment of the athlete's heart should begin with a thorough echocardiographic examination. Left ventricular (LV) wall thickness by echocardiography can contribute to the distinction between athlete's LV hypertrophy and hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM). LV end-diastolic diameter becomes larger (>55 mm) than the normal limits only in end-stage HCM patients when the LV ejection fraction is <50%. Patients with HCM also show early impairment of LV diastolic function, whereas athletes have normal diastolic function. When echocardiography cannot provide a clear differential diagnosis, cardiac magnetic resonance (CMR) imaging should be performed. With CMR, accurate morphological and functional assessment can be made. Tissue characterization by late gadolinium enhancement may show a distinctive, non-ischaemic pattern in HCM and a variety of other myocardial conditions such as idiopathic dilated cardiomyopathy or myocarditis. The work-up of athletes with suspected coronary artery disease should start with an exercise ECG. In athletes with inconclusive exercise ECG results, exercise stress echocardiography should be considered. Nuclear cardiology techniques, coronary cardiac tomography (CCT) and/or CMR may be performed in selected cases. Owing to radiation exposure and the young age of most athletes, the use of CCT and nuclear cardiology techniques should be restricted to athletes with unclear stress echocardiography or CMR. Published on behalf of the European Society of Cardiology. All rights reserved. © The Author 2015. For permissions please email: journals.permissions@oup.com.
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