Athlete's heart often confused with HCM

February 12, 2013 3:56:23 PM PST
High endurance athletes may have a change of heart - literally.

Cardiology experts at Cleveland Clinic say the hearts of some high endurance athlete's grow in size to keep up with the demands of their sport.

The condition is often confused with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, or HCM, which can be fatal. Athlete's heart is a non- threatening condition that has no symptoms but the walls of the heart are slightly thicker and heart function may be borderline low.

Both conditions can be tricky to tell apart so. How do you know the difference?

"By stopping the high endurance activities has your cardiac mass come down? Has your wall thickness come down? Has your heart size shrunk? If that's the answer, if all those things happen then you know this is indeed athlete's heart and not hypertrophic cardiomyopathy," Dr. Melind Desai said.

Doctor Desai suggests stopping all high endurance activities for 3 to 6 months to see if heart size normalizes.