Advances in Clinical and Experimental Medicine

Title abbreviation: Adv Clin Exp Med
JCR Impact Factor (IF) – 1.727
Index Copernicus  – 166.39
MEiN – 70 pts

ISSN 1899–5276 (print)
ISSN 2451-2680 (online)
Periodicity – monthly

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Advances in Clinical and Experimental Medicine

2018, vol. 27, nr 8, August, p. 1091–1098

doi: 10.17219/acem/73700

Publication type: original article

Language: English

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Electrocardiographic abnormalities in amateur male marathon runners

Anna M. Kaleta1,A,B,C,D,F, Ewa Lewicka1,A,B,C,E,F, Alicja Dąbrowska-Kugacka1,A,B,C,E,F, Zuzanna Lewicka-Potocka1,A,B,C, Elżbieta Wabich1,A,B,C, Anna Szerszyńska2,B,C, Julia Dyda2,B,C, Jakub Sobolewski2,B,C, Jakub Koenner2,B,C, Grzegorz Raczak1,A,E,F

1 Department of Cardiology and Electrotherapy, Medical University of Gdańsk, Poland

2 Students’ Cardiology Scientific Association, Department of Cardiology, Medical University of Gdańsk, Poland


Background. Sports activity has become extremely popular among amateurs. Electrocardiography is a useful tool in screening for cardiac pathologies in athletes; however, there is little data on electrocardiographic abnormalities in the group of amateur athletes.
Objectives. The aim of this study was to analyze the abnormalities in resting and exercise electrocardiograms (ECGs) in a group of amateur athletes, and try to determine whether the criteria applied for the general population or for athletes’ ECGs should be implemented in this group.
Material and Methods. In 40 amateur male marathon runners, 3 consecutive 12-lead ECGs were performed: 2–3 weeks before (stage 1), just after the run (stage 2) and 2–3 weeks after the marathon (stage 3). Resting (stage 1) and exercise (stage 2) ECGs were analyzed following the refined criteria for the assessment of athlete’s ECG (changes classified as training-related, borderline or training-unrelated).
Results. In resting ECGs, at least 1 abnormality was found in 92.5% of the subjects and the most common was sinus bradycardia (62.5%). In post-exercise ECGs, at least 1 abnormality was present in 77.5% of the subjects and the most common was right atrium enlargement (RAE) (42.5%). Training-related ECG variants were more frequent at rest (82.5% vs 42.5%; p = 0.0008), while borderline variants – after the run (22.5% vs 57.5%; p = 0.0004). Training-unrelated abnormalities were found in 15% and 10% of the subjects, respectively (p-value – nonsignificant), and the most common was T-wave inversion.
Conclusion. Even if the refined criteria rather than the criteria used for normal sedentary population were applied, the vast majority of amateur runners showed at least 1 abnormality in resting ECGs, which were mainly training-related variants. However, at rest, in 15% of the subjects, pathologic training-unrelated abnormalities were found. The most frequent post-exercise abnormality was right atrial enlargement. General electrocardiographic screening in amateur athletes should be taken into consideration.

Key words

electrocardiography, athlete’s heart, sports cardiology, refined criteria, amateur runners

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