Doppler myocardial imaging to assess systolic activation delay can help determine whether a condition is hypertrophic cardiomyopathy or merely the result of athletic training—and help predict serious adverse cardiac events, Italian researchers reported.
Dr. Antonello D'Andrea of the Second University of Naples (Italy) and colleagues followed 70 patients with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM) and 85 age- and sex-matched competitive athletes with enlarged left ventricles and interventricular septa thicker than 12 mm (Br. J. Sports Med. 2006;40:244–50).
During the 4-year follow-up, the study's primary end point was cardiovascular mortality. Eight HCM patients died during follow-up; none of the athletes had a cardiovascular event. The participants were aged 29 years on average and were matched for blood pressure. Eighty percent of them were male. All had standard pulsed Doppler echocardiography and pulsed Doppler myocardial imaging in six myocardial segments. HCM patients showed a “significant global Doppler interventricular delay,” the authors said. One-fifth of the HCM patients had a relative who had died from an HCM-related cardiac event.