Regular exercise promotes structural, functional, and electrical remodeling of the heart, often referred to as the “athlete's heart,” with intense endurance sports being associated with the greatest degree of cardiac remodeling. However, the extremes of exercise-induced cardiac remodeling are potentially associated with uncommon side effects. Atrial fibrillation is more common among endurance athletes and there is speculation that other arrhythmias may also be more prevalent. It is yet to be determined whether this arrhythmic susceptibility is a result of extreme exercise remodeling, genetic predisposition, or other factors. Gender may have the greatest influence on the cardiac response to exercise, but there has been far too little research directed at understanding differences in the sportsman's vs sportswoman's heart. Here in part 4 of a 4-part seminar series, the controversies and ambiguities regarding the athlete's heart, and in particular, its arrhythmic predisposition, genetic, and gender influences are reviewed in depth.
- athlete's heart
- atrial fibrillation