Background-Recent reports have suggested that long-term, intensive physical training may be associated with adverse cardiovascular effects, including the development of myocardial fibrosis. However, the dose-response association of different levels of lifelong physical activity on myocardial fibrosis has not been evaluated. Methods and Results-Seniors free of major chronic illnesses were recruited from predefined populations based on the consistent documentation of stable physical activity over >25 years and were classified into 4 groups by the number of sessions/week of aerobic activities ≥30 minutes: sedentary (group 1), <2 sessions; casual (group 2), 2 to 3 sessions; committed (group 3), 4 to 5 sessions; and Masters athletes (group 4), 6 to 7 sessions plus regular competitions. All subjects underwent cardiopulmonary exercise testing and cardiac magnetic resonance imaging, including late gadolinium enhancement assessment of fibrosis. Ninety-two subjects (mean age 69 years, 27% women) were enrolled. No significant differences in age or sex were seen between groups. Median peak oxygen uptake was 25, 26, 32, and 40 mL/kg/min for groups 1, 2, 3, and 4, respectively. Cardiac magnetic resonance imaging demonstrated increasing left ventricular end-diastolic volumes, end-systolic volumes, stroke volumes, and masses with increasing doses of lifelong physical activity. One subject in group 2 had late gadolinium enhancement in a noncoronary distribution, and no subjects in groups 3 and 4 had evidence of late gadolinium enhancement. Conclusions-A lifelong history of consistent physical activity, regardless of dose ranging from sedentary to competitive marathon running, was not associated with the development of focal myocardial fibrosis.
- Athlete's heart
- magnetic resonance imaging
- myocardial fibrosis
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
- Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine