Athlete's heart and its differentiation from pathological heart disease

W. Kindermann*, A. Urhausen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalShort surveypeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


A uniformly enlarged heart with increased performance is known as athlete's heart. The largest hearts are seen among endurance-trained athletes. The ratio mass to volume remains unchanged, both in endurance-trained and power-trained athletes, and a concentric type of hypertrophy is not induced by power training. Echocardiographic changes in the left ventricle are only slight. Such a heart is less common among athletes than is generally supposed. For differentiating between physiological and pathological hypertrophy, the history of sporting activity is of major importance, and can be defined by means of a score. The interruption or cessation of physical training results in regression of dilatation and hypertrophy. In non-competitive athletes cardiac enlargement must be considered pathological until proved otherwise.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)41-42+45
JournalFortschritte der Medizin
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1991
Externally publishedYes


  • athlete's heart
  • echocardiography
  • endurance training
  • power training


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