UMEM Educational Pearls

Category: Cardiology

Title: the athlete's heart and ECGs

Keywords: athlete, electrocardiogram, electrocardiography (PubMed Search)

Posted: 4/1/2012 by Amal Mattu, MD (Updated: 2/22/2024)
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Pearl provided by Dr. Semhar Tewelde

The Athlete's Heart and ECG Abnormalities
Up to 80% of athletes have common training related ECG changes/abnormalities including: sinus bradycardia, asymptomatic sinus pause, sinus arrhythmia, first degree AV block, incomplete right bundle branch block, benign early repolarization (BER), and isolated QRS voltage criteria for left ventricular (LV) hypertrophy.

Approximately 5% athletes exhibit uncommon training unrelated ECG changes/abnormalities including: T-wave inversions, ST-depression, pathological Q-waves, left axis deviation/left anterior fasicular block, right axis deviation/left posterior fasicular block, right ventricular hypertrophy, complete left or right bundle branch block, long or short QT interval, ventricular pre-excitation/WPW, Brugada pattern, and arrhythmogenic right ventricular dysplasia (ARVD).


Corrado D, Pelliccia A, Heidbuchel H, et al. Recommendations for interpretation of 12-lead electrocardiogram in the athlete. European heart journal. Jan 2010; 31(2):243-259