Purpose: Female athletes often demonstrate changes in cardiac dimensions that are less prominent than in male athletes, and results from longitudinal studies are conflicting. The atrioventricular plane displacement (AVPD) in the heart is used as an index of left ventricular systolic function with the assumption that it is a more sensitive method for measuring myocardial contractility compared with left ventricular ejection fraction. The aim of the present study was to determine the effect of a short period of endurance training on cardiac dimensions in sedentary female subjects and to measure the AVPD at rest and during submaximal workload.
Methods: Twelve sedentary female subjects (21.9 ± 1.3 yr, 168.8 ± 3.5 cm, 64.0 ± 6.6 kg, and 42.6 ± 2.9 mL·kg−1·min−1 in maximal oxygen uptake) were examined with echocardiography before and after a period of interval training (varying from 2 to 5 min at 90–95% of maximal heart rate, 3 d·wk−1, 8 wk).
Results: Maximal oxygen uptake increased by 18% to 50.4 ± 3.1 mL·kg−1·min−1 (P < 0.001). Left ventricular mass increased from 123.9 to 139.2 g (P = 0.007). There was a significant increase in posterior wall thickness but no change in cavity size. The AVPD did not change at rest but increased significantly from 15.6 to 17.6 mm (P < 0.001) during exercise at 85–90% of maximal heart rate.
Conclusion: This study shows that a short period of aerobic endurance training induces changes in the female heart, both in cardiac dimensions at rest and in left ventricular systolic function at submaximal workload. AVPD during submaximal exercise discriminate well between the untrained and trained healthy heart.