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Seasonal variation of cardiac structure and function in the elite rugby football league athlete

Forsythe, L, George, K, Papadakis, M, Mill, N, Daniels, M and Oxborough, D (2023) Seasonal variation of cardiac structure and function in the elite rugby football league athlete. Echo Research and Practice, 10 (1). ISSN 2055-0464

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Background: Pre-participation cardiac screening (PCS) of “Super-League” rugby football league (RFL) athletes is mandatory but may be completed at any time point. The aim of this study was to assess cardiac electrical, structural and functional variation across the competitive season. Methods: Elite, male, RFL athletes from a single Super-League club underwent cardiac evaluation using electrocardiography (ECG), 2D echocardiography and speckle tracking echocardiography (STE) at four time points across the RFL season; (1) End pre-season (ENDPRE), (2) mid-season (MIDCOMP), (3) end-season (ENDCOMP) and (4) End off-season (ENDOFF). Training loads for each time point were also determined. One-way ANOVA with post-hoc Bonferroni were used for statistical analyses. Results: Total workload undertaken by athletes was lower at both MIDCOMP and ENDCOMP compared to ENDPRE (P < 0.001). ECG patterns were normal with training-related changes that were largely consistent across assessments. Structural data did not vary across assessment points. Standard functional data was not different across assessment points but apical rotation and twist were higher at ENDPRE (9.83˚ and 16.55˚, respectively compared to all other time points (MIDCOMP, 6.13˚ and 12.62˚; ENDCOMP, 5.84˚ and 12.12˚; ENDOFF 6.60˚ and 12.35˚). Conclusions: Despite some seasonal variation in training load, the athletes’ ECG and cardiac structure were stable across a competitive season. Seasonal variation in left ventricular (LV) apical rotation and twist, associated with higher training loads, should be noted in the context of PCS.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: Athlete’s heart; Cardiac screening; Echocardiography; Seasonal variation; Speckle tracking echocardiography
Subjects: R Medicine > RC Internal medicine > RC1200 Sports Medicine
Divisions: Research & Innovation Services
Sport & Exercise Sciences
Publisher: BioScientifica
SWORD Depositor: A Symplectic
Date Deposited: 11 Mar 2024 13:40
Last Modified: 11 Mar 2024 13:45
DOI or ID number: 10.1186/s44156-023-00026-9
URI: https://researchonline.ljmu.ac.uk/id/eprint/22767
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