The cardiovascular system adapts to exercise. With conditioning, the heart modifies its physiologic and morphologic structure. When those changes occur in athletes seeking clearance for sports participation, they comprise the athletic heart syndrome. With detraining, many of those modifications normalize, which is a diagnostic feature of the athletic heart syndrome. It is important for practitioners who care for athletes to be cognizant of those adaptations and to differentiate them from pathologic changes that may warrant restriction from sports participation or place the athlete at risk for sudden cardiac death.
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© 2004 American College of Sports Medicine