PURPOSE OF THE REVIEW: This review will explore frequently encountered diagnostic challenges and summarize the role cardiac imaging plays in defining the boundaries of what constitutes the athlete's heart syndrome versus pathology.
RECENT FINDINGS: Investigations have predominantly focused on differentiating the athlete's heart from potentially lethal pathological conditions that may produce a similar cardiac morphology. Guidelines have identified criteria for identifying definitive pathology, but difficulty arises when individuals fall in the gray zone of expected athletic remodeling and pathology. Transthoracic echo has traditionally been the imaging modality of choice utilizing parameters such as wall thickness, wall:volume ratio, and certain diastolic parameters. Newer echocardiogram techniques such as strain imaging and speckle tracking have potential additive utility but still need further investigation. Cardiac magnetic resonance (CMR) imaging has emerged as an additive technique to help differentiate the phenotypic overlap between these groups. Utilizing gadolinium enhancement and T1 mapping along with its excellent spatial resolution can help distinguish pathology from physiology. Both established and novel cardiac imaging modalities have been used for uncovering the at risk athletes with cardiomyopathies. The issue is of practical importance because athletes are frequently referred to the cardiologist with symptoms of fatigue, palpitations, presyncope, and/or syncope concerned about the safety of their future participation. Imaging is a key component of risk stratification and identifying normal findings of the developed athlete and those "at-risk" athletes.
Published In/Presented At
Caruso, M. R., Garg, L., & Martinez, M. W. (2020). Cardiac Imaging in the Athlete: Shrinking the "Gray Zone". Current treatment options in cardiovascular medicine, 22(2), 5. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11936-020-0802-8
Cardiology | Sports Medicine