Echocardiographic Characterization of Female Professional Basketball Players in the US

..Echocardiographic variables included left ventricular (LV) dimensions, wall thickness, mass, prevalence of LV hypertrophy, aortic dimensions, right ventricular (RV) dimension, and right and left atrial size. Linear regression was used to assess the associations between cardiac structure and function with body size quantified as body surface area (BSA) in the primary analysis.

Results A total of 140 female athletes (mean [SD] age, 26.8 [3.9] years; 105 [75.0%] African American) participated in the study. Mean (SD) athlete height was 183.4 (9.0) cm, and mean (SD) BSA was 2.02 (0.18) m2. Compared with guideline-defined normal values, LV enlargement was present in 36 athletes (26.0%) and 57 athletes (42.2%) had RV enlargement.

There was a linear correlation between LV and RV cavity sizes and BSA extending to the uppermost biometrics (LV cavity size: r, 0.48; RV cavity size: r, 0.32; P < .001 for both). Maximal left ventricular wall thickness (LVWT) ranged from 0.6 to 1.4 cm, with 78 athletes (55.7%) having LVWT of 1.0 cm or greater and only 1 athlete (0.7%) having LVWT greater than 1.3 cm.

Twenty-three athletes (16.4%) met the criteria for left ventricular hypertrophy (LVH) (>95 g/m2). Eccentric LVH was present in 16 athletes (69.6%), concentric LVH in 7 athletes (30.4%), and concentric remodeling in 27 athletes (19.3%). Mean aortic root diameter was 3.1 cm (95% CI, 3.0-3.2). Only 2 athletes (1.4%) had guideline-defined aortic enlargement compared with a range of 18% to 42% for left and right ventricular and atrial enlargement.

Conclusions and Relevance In this study, increased cardiac dimensions were frequently observed in WNBA athletes. Both BSA and physiologic remodeling affected cardiac morphologic findings. This study may provide a framework to define the range of athletic cardiac remodeling exhibited by elite female basketball players.