Strain echocardiography to describe left ventricular function pre- and postexercise in elite basketball athletes: A feasibility study

Martin M. Gruca*, Baljash Cheema, Gaurang Garg, Juliet Ryan, James D. Thomas, Vera H. Rigolin, Allison R. Zielinski, Jyothy J. Puthumana

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Background: Elite athletes show structural cardiac changes as an adaptation to exercise. Studies examining strain in athletes have largely analyzed images at rest only. There is little data available regarding the change in strain with exercise. Our objectives were: to investigate the feasibility of strain analysis in athletes at peak exercise, to determine the normal range of left ventricular (LV) global longitudinal strain (GLS) within this population postexercise, to describe how LV GLS changes with exercise, and to determine whether any clinical characteristics correlate with the change in GLS that occurs with exercise. Methods: We conducted a cross-sectional study on elite athletes who participated in the 2016–2018 National Basketball Association Draft Combines. Echocardiograms were obtained at rest and after completing a treadmill stress test to maximal exertion or completion of Bruce protocol. Primary outcomes included GLS obtained at rest and peak exercise. Secondary outcome was the change in GLS between rest and exercise. Univariate relationships between various clinical characteristics and our secondary outcome were analyzed. Results: Our final cohort (n = 111) was all male and 92/111 (82.9%) were African American. Mean GLS magnitude increased in response to exercise (−17.6 ± 1.8 vs −19.2 ± 2.6, P <.0001). Lower resting heart rates (r =.22, P =.02) and lower heart rates at peak exercise (r =.21, P =.03) correlated with the increase in LV GLS from exercise. Conclusions: Strain imaging is technically feasible to obtain among elite basketball athletes at peak exercise. Normative strain response to exercise from this study may help identify abnormal responses to exercise in athletes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1165-1172
Number of pages8
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 2021


  • 2D echocardiography
  • athlete's heart
  • exercise echocardiography
  • left ventricular function
  • strain
  • stress echocardiography

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging


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