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22-04-2012 | Cardiology | Article

Left ventricular hypertrabeculation common in Black, male athletes


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MedWire News: Left ventricular hypertrabeculation (LVHT) or noncompaction, a feature of certain cardiomyopathies, is more common in Black than Caucasian athletes, a study has found.

The findings were presented by Navin Chandra (St George's University of London, UK) and team at the World Congress of Cardiology in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.

LVHT occurs as a result of incomplete compaction of the heart muscle during development, and is associated with cardiomyopathy. This is of particular importance given the fact that cardiomyopathies are the most common cause of exercise-related sudden cardiac death in athletes, explain the authors.

Chandra et al evaluated the prevalence of LVHT in 692 athletes (mean age 22.4 years, 74.7% male), of whom 69.4% were Caucasian, and 455 sedentary controls (mean age 19.6 years, 69.2% male), of whom 44.4% were Caucasian.

All participants underwent cardiac assessment with electrocardiography (ECG). ECG measurements were analyzed for specific abnormalities as described by the European Society of Cardiology sports cardiology consensus.

Prominent LVHT, defined by the presence of three or more trabeculations in the left ventricle, was more common in athletes compared with controls, at 6.8% versus 0.4% (p<0.001).

However, none of the athletes or controls fulfilled the diagnostic criteria for any form of cardiomyopathy.

Amongst athletes, LVHT was significantly more common in Afro-Caribbean Black individuals than Caucasians, at 13.2% versus 4.0%, and in male athletes than females, at 8.5% versus 1.7% (p<0.001 for both).

Athletes with LVHT had a significantly greater prevalence of T-wave inversions (27.7 vs 9.3%, p<0.001) and greater maximal left ventricular wall thickness (11.0 vs 10.3 mm, p=0.004) on echocardiography than those without LVHT.

"The high prevalence of LVHT among athletes suggests that this may represent part of the spectrum of cardiac adaptations that are known to make up 'athlete's heart,' " commented Chandra in a press statement.

"Given that LVHT is a feature of sudden cardiac death, its prevalence among athletes creates greater challenges for doctors trying to differentiate between athlete's heart and a serious medical condition, particularly in black male athletes where the prevalence is much higher."

MedWire ( is an independent clinical news service provided by Springer Healthcare Limited. © Springer Healthcare Ltd; 2012

By Piriya Mahendra

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