Right Ventricular Structure and Function in the Veteran Ultramarathon Runner: Is There Evidence for Chronic Maladaptation?


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Abstract

BackgroundIt has been proposed that chronic exposure to prolonged strenuous exercise may result in maladaptation of the right ventricle (RV). The aim of this study was to establish RV structure and function, including septal insertion points, using conventional echocardiography and myocardial strain (ε) imaging in a veteran population of ultramarathon runners (UR) and age- and sex-matched controls.MethodsA retrospective study design provided 40 UR (>35 years old; mean ± SD training experience, 18 ± 12 years) and 24 sedentary controls who had previously undergone conventional two-dimensional, tissue Doppler and speckle-tracking echocardiography to measure RV size and function. Peak RV ε and strain rate (SR) were assessed from the base, mid, and apical lateral wall. SR were assessed during systole (SRs’), early diastole (SRe′) and late diastole (SRa′). Regional assessment of RV insertion points was made at the basal inferoseptum and apical septum using left ventricular (LV) longitudinal ε and at the anteroseptum and inferoseptum using LV circumferential and radial ε.ResultsAll structural indices of RV size were significantly larger in UR. RV regional and global peak ε were not different between groups, whereas basal RV SR was significantly lower in UR. UR had significantly higher peak LV circumferential ε (anteroseptum, −26% ± 8% vs −21% ± 6%; inferoseptum, −25% ± 6% vs −16% ± 9%) and higher peak LV longitudinal ε (apical septum, −28% ± 7% vs −22% ± 4%) compared with controls. There was regional heterogeneity in UR that was not observed in controls with significantly lower longitudinal ε at the basal inferoseptal insertion point when compared with the global ε (−19% ± 2% vs −22% ± 4%).ConclusionsMyocardial ε imaging highlights no overt maladaptation in this cohort of veteran UR, although lower insertion point ε, compared with global ε, in UR may warrant further investigation.HighlightsThere is no evidence of overt RV maladaptation in veteran ultrarunners.There is regional variation, specifically at the RV insertion points within the LV seen in veteran ultrarunners, but not matched controls.RV enlargement is a common finding in veteran ultrarunners.

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