Bradycardia, cardiomegaly, heart murmurs, and ECG changes are typically observed in adult endurance athletes, but frequency of such changes among children involved in sports training is unclear. Pediatricians need to be aware of whether these features of the " athlete's heart" occur in their patients, because such features may mimic those of cardiac disease. Fourteen prepubertal competitive male swimmers were evaluated by physical examination, ECG and echocardiogram, and findings were compared to those of a group of active but nontrained control boys. Lower resting heart rates and echocardiographic manifestations of chronic left ventricular volume overload were observed among the swimmers. These changes were not manifest on physical examination, however, and no significant ECG alterations were identified among the athletes. These findings indicate that, although features of the athlete's heart are present in children involved in endurance training, seldom will these findings simulate heart disease or be apparent on routine clinical examination.
- Accepted October 29, 1986.
- Copyright © 1987 by the American Academy of Pediatrics