#Cardiac Structure and Function in Elite Female and Male #Soccer Players

Population-specific normative data are essential for the evaluation of competitive athletes. At present, there are limited data defining normal electrocardiographic (ECG) and echocardiographic values among elite US soccer players..

.. A total of 238 athletes (122 [51%] female; mean [SD] age, 20 [4] years; age range, 15-40 years) were included. Male athletes demonstrated a higher prevalence of normal training-related ECG findings, while female athletes were more likely to have abnormal ECG patterns (14 [11%] vs 0 in male cohort), largely accounted for by abnormal T-wave inversions.

Echocardiography revealed no pathologic findings meeting criteria for sport restriction, but athletes frequently exceeded normal ranges for structural cardiac parameters responsive to exercise-induced remodeling including body surface area–indexed left ventricular (LV) mass (58 of 113 female athletes [51%] and 67 of 114 male athletes [59%]), indexed LV volume (89 of 115 female athletes [77%] and 76 of 111 male athletes [68%]), and LV wall thickness (37 of 122 female athletes [30%] and 47 of 116 male athletes [41%]). Age-stratified analysis revealed age-dependent increases in LV wall thickness, mass, and volumes among female athletes and LV wall thickness and mass among male athletes.

Conclusions and Relevance These data represent the first set of comprehensive normative values for elite US soccer players and one of the largest sport-specific echocardiographic remodeling studies in female athletes. Abnormal ECG findings were more common in female athletes, while both female and male athletes frequently exceeded clinical normality cut points for remodeling-associated echocardiographic parameters.