Clinical significance of intraventricular gradient during effort in an adolescent karate player
© Cotrim et al; licensee BioMed Central Ltd. 2007
Received: 20 October 2007
Accepted: 19 November 2007
Published: 19 November 2007
The authors report the case of a 16-year-old boy who practices karate, who underwent medical evaluation because of atypical chest discomfort, related to strenuous effort. The ECG and echocardiogram findings were normal. The young boy did a treadmill stress test which was positive for myocardial ischemia. Late during the investigation, he underwent treadmill stress echocardiography, during which he developed intraventricular gradient of over 130 mmHg with end-systolic peak and systolic anterior movement (SAM) of the mitral valve. These echocardiographic findings were not present at rest and disappeared shortly after termination of exercise. The authors discuss the significance of this event. This leads us to advise withdrawal from participation in competitive sport according to the recomendations of the European Society of Cardiology. A possible role of exercise stress echo for intraventricular pressure gradient assessment in symptomatic athletes with structurally normal hearts is suggested.
The development of significant intraventricular gradients during exercise is rare, usually in association with left ventricular hypertrophy [1, 2]. In 23-year-old athlete , in an 20-year-old professional soccer player , and in a 79 year-old man we performed exercise echocardiography , and during the exercise  we unespectedly detected significant (greater than 50 mmHg) intraventricular gradient and systolic anterior movement of the mitral valve. In the case presented here, we describe an adolescent karate player that developed the same phenomenon.
We describe the case of a 16 year-old caucasian male, with a four-hour weekly training schedule, who complained of occasional chest disconfort on strenuous exercise. There was no relevant personal history and no family history of sudden death or heart disease were reported.
Discussion and conclusion
It has long been know that small intraventricular gradients are a commom phenomenon. Three mechanisms have been proposed  for them increasing significantly during exercise: 1) increase in non-obstructive physiologycal gradients; 2) end-systolic obstruction secondary to ventricular cavitary obliteration; and 3) mid-systolic obstruction caused by SAM of the mitral valve restricting ejection. However for SAM to occur, there must be some alteration of the geometry of the ventricular chamber or of the mitral valve apparatus. This was not the case in our adolescent, although it has been demonstrated that intraventricular gradients can be caused by maneuvers that change loading conditions in structurally normal hearts , and it is know that participating in sports can bring about elicit such changes.
Sudden death in young athlets has been thoroughly studied, and there is an agreement that the usual causes are hereditary or congenital . However, in some series  around 30% of autopsy studies show no abnormalities, which suggests that the standard screening programs are failing to prevent sudden death.
In the case we report the fact that the patient had normal echocardiogram means that morphological study of this heart would probably reveal no abnormalities. The phenomenom that we detected during exercise testing – mitral valve SAM and intraventricular gradient associated with ST alterations – could well have been responsible for his symptoms.
The medical examination of this athlete was carried out because of symptoms arising from intense effort; we did'nt reproduced the symptoms during exercise test but we detected an anomaly in cardiac function [2–5], that in our opinion may explain them. The abnormality detected is, however, only detectable during effort, and is not among the diagnosis that contraindicate participation in competitive sport according to recommendations of the 36th Bethesda conference  and the European Society of Cardiology . It is possible tht the phenomenon described in this adolescent could be among the causes of sudden death in cases where anatomopathological examination reveals no abnormalities, and we accordingly advised the athlete to suspend sports practice and referred him for assessment to a sports medicine center. In our opinion, the case described, in which significant abnormalities in cardiac function were found only during exercise, suggests that this methodology should be applied to other adolescents that have symptoms related to exercise but no structural abnormalities. We should note that this phenomenon has been almost excluded to be a normal response to exercise in young healthy adults . In face of this, the symptomatic athletes in which the findings which we described is detected, should also be subjected of long term follow-up to obtain an accurate assessment of its clinical significance.
- Peteiro J, Monserrat L, Castro Beiras A: Lábil subaortic obstruction during exercise stress echocardiography. Am J Cardiol. 1999, 84: 1119-23. 10.1016/S0002-9149(99)00517-2.View ArticlePubMedGoogle Scholar
- Lau K, Navarijo J, Stainback F: Pseudo-False-Positive Exercise Treadmill Testing. Tex Heart Inst J. 2001, 28: 308-11.PubMedPubMed CentralGoogle Scholar
- Cotrim C, João I, Fazendas P, Cordeiro P, Sequeira A, Henriksson I, Oliveira L, Carrageta M: Exercise induced ventricular gradient in a young patient with a positive treadmill test and normal coronary arteries. Rev Port Cardiol. 2002, 21: 331-5.PubMedGoogle Scholar
- Cotrim C, Loureiro M, Simões O, Cordeiro P, Henriksson I, Vinhas H, Almeida A, Carrageta M: Intraventricular gradient during effort in a professional soccer player. Clinical significance. Rev Port Cardiol. 2005, 24: 1395-1401.PubMedGoogle Scholar
- Almeida S, Cotrim C, Brandão L, Miranda R, Loureiro M, Simões O, Lopes L, Carrageta M: Exercise-Induced left ventricular outflow tract obstruction. A potential cause of symptoms in the elderly. Rev Port Cardiol. 2007, 26: 257-262.PubMedGoogle Scholar
- Cotrim C, Carrageta M: Ecocardiografia de Sobrecarga – Esforço. Rev Port Cardiol. 2000, 19: 345-350.PubMedGoogle Scholar
- Yotti R: Qué significado tiene un gradiente de presión intraventricular sistólico durante el ejercicio?. Rev Esp Cardiol. 2004, 57: 1139-42. 10.1157/13069859.View ArticlePubMedGoogle Scholar
- Grose R, Maskin C, Spindola-Franco H, Yipintsoi T: Production of left ventricular cavitary obliteration in normal man. Circulation. 1981, 64: 448-55.View ArticlePubMedGoogle Scholar
- Firoozi S, Sharma S, McKenna W: Risk of competitive sport in young athletes with heart disease. Heart. 2003, 89: 710-714. 10.1136/heart.89.7.710.View ArticlePubMedPubMed CentralGoogle Scholar
- Paz M, Aguilera B: Causes of Sudden Death During Sports Activities in Spain. Rev Esp Cardiol. 2002, 55: 347-58.View ArticleGoogle Scholar
- Maron B, Zipes D: 36th Bethesda Conference. Introduction: Eligibility recomendations for competitive athletes with cardiovascular abnormalities – general considerations. J Am Coll Cardiol. 2005, 45: 1318-21. 10.1016/j.jacc.2005.02.006.View ArticlePubMedGoogle Scholar
- Corrado D, Pelliccia A, Bjørnstad H, Vanhees L, Biffi A, Borjesson M, Panhuyzen-Goedkoop N, Deligiannis A, Solberg E, Dugmore D, Mellwig KP, Assanelli D, Delise P, van-Buuren F, Anastasakis A, Heidbuchel H, Hoffmann E, Fagard R, Priori SG, Basso C, Arbustini E, Blomstrom-Lundqvist C, McKenna WJ, Thiene G, Study Group of Sport Cardiology of the Working Group of Cardiac Rehabilitation and Exercise Physiology and the Working Group of Myocardial and Pericardial Diseases of the European Society of Cardiology: Cardiovascular pre-participation screening of young competitive athletes for prevention of sudden death: proposal for a common European protocol. Consensus statement of Study Group of Sport Cardiology of the Working Group of Cardiac Reabilitation and Exercise Physiology and Working Group of Myocardial and Pericardial Diseases of European Society of Cardiology. Eur Heart J. 2005, 26: 516-524. 10.1093/eurheartj/ehi108.View ArticlePubMedGoogle Scholar
- Bueno F, Isabel R, Salguero R, Doblas J, Pinilla J, Galván E: Effect of exercise on systolic left ventricular outflow velocity in healthy adults. Rev Esp Cardiol. 2006, 59: 180-2. 10.1157/13084648.View ArticleGoogle Scholar
This article is published under license to BioMed Central Ltd. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.