The human heart is an asymmetrical structure that consists of oblique, circumferential, and transmural fibers, as well as laminae and sheets. Sequential electrical activation of all the muscle fibers ultimately results in a coordinated contraction of the heart muscle also referred to as “deformation.” This is immediately followed by myocardial relaxation, when the preceding deformation is reversed, and the ventricles fill with blood. Given the complexity of these repetitive motions, it is not surprising that there is great diversity in the myocardial deformation between different individuals and between distinct populations. Exercise presents a natural challenge to determine the full capacity of an individual’s heart, and modern imaging technologies allow for the non-invasive assessment of myocardial deformation during exercise. In this chapter, the most relevant anatomical basis for myocardial deformation is summarized and definitions of the most relevant parameters are provided. Then, the general cardiac responses to exercise are highlighted before the current knowledge on myocardial deformation during exercise is discussed. The literature clearly indicates that the echocardiographic evaluation of myocardial deformation during exercise holds great promise for the identification of sub-clinical disease. Future studies should aim to determine the mechanisms of differential expression of myocardial deformation during exercise in health and disease.
Part of the book: Advanced Concepts in Endocarditis