Aerobic training protects cardiac function during advancing age : A meta-analysis of four decades of controlled studies
- Authors: Beaumont, Alexander , Grace, Fergal , Richards, Joanna , Campbell, Amy , Sculthorpe, Nicholas
- Date: 2019
- Type: Text , Journal article , Review
- Relation: Sports Medicine Vol. 49, no. 2 (2019), p. 199-219
- Full Text:
- Description: Background: In contrast to younger athletes, there is comparatively less literature examining cardiac structure and function in older athletes. However, a progressive accumulation of studies during the past four decades offers a body of literature worthy of systematic scrutiny. Objectives: We conducted a systematic review, meta-analysis and meta-regression of controlled echocardiography studies comparing left ventricular (LV) structure and function in aerobically trained older athletes (> 45 years) with age-matched untrained controls, in addition to investigating the influence of chronological age. Methods: Electronic databases were searched from inception to January 2018 before conducting a random-effects meta-analysis to calculate pooled differences in means, effect size and 95% confidence intervals (CIs). Study heterogeneity was reported using Cochran’s Q and I2 statistic. Results: Overall, 32 studies (644 athletes; 582 controls) were included. Athletes had greater LV end-diastolic diameter (3.65 mm, 95% CI 2.66–4.64), interventricular septal thickness (1.23 mm, 95% CI 0.85–1.60), posterior wall thickness (1.20 mm, 95% CI 0.83–1.56), LV mass (72 g, 95% CI 46–98), LV mass index (28.17 g·m2, 95% CI 19.84–36.49) and stroke volume (13.59 mL, 95% CI 7.20–19.98) (all p < 0.01). Athletes had superior global diastolic function [ratio of early (E) to late (A) mitral inflow velocity (E/A) 0.18, 95% CI 0.13–0.24, p < 0.01; ratio of early (e′) to late (a′) diastolic annular tissue velocity (e′/a′) 0.23, 95% CI 0.06–0.40, p = 0.01], lower A (−8.20 cm·s−1, 95% CI −11.90 to −4.51, p < 0.01) and a′ (−0.72 cm·s−1, 95% CI −1.31 to −0.12, p = 0.02), and more rapid e′ (0.96 cm·s−1, 95% CI 0.05–1.86, p = 0.04). Meta-regression for chronological age identified that athlete–control differences, in the main, are maintained during advancing age. Conclusions: Athletic older men have larger cardiac dimensions and enjoy more favourable cardiac function than healthy, non-athletic counterparts. Notably, the athlete groups maintain these effects during chronological ageing. © 2018, The Author(s).