Effect of height on left atrial size

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New Member

Date Joined Jul 2006
Total Posts : 2
   Posted 7/12/2006 11:04 AM (GMT -6)   
I have a left atrial size of 50 mm. I am in my early 30s and am 6'6". I have been told that it is no big deal - "big guy, big heart" etc. I have researched the issue and discovered many articles referencing an adjustment of normal range atrial dimensions for height/weight considerations, but nothing specific. Does anyone have any special knowledge on the issue or whether it is possible to decrease the size of the left atrial through diet, exercise, eating right, lifestyle changes, etc. Any insight would be appreciated.

Regular Member

Date Joined Jan 2006
Total Posts : 289
   Posted 7/12/2006 1:29 PM (GMT -6)   

If you had a test such as an echocardiogram that determined this size, I would ask if your left atria were the only chamber in your heart that was enlarged. If your size is the reason for the large left atria, then what about the other 3 chambers of your heart? Are their relative sizes the same? If your left atria is enlarged, it could cause atrial fibrillation and supraventricular tachycardia, I have read.

Here is an article that discusses left atria enlargement among top athletes. (Well the link I posted did not work, so here is the article)

"Left Atrial Enlargement in Competitive Athletes Common but Not Pathologic 

Aug. 16, 2005 — Enlargement of the left atrium (LA) occurs in as many as 20% of competitive athletes, according to a multinational team of investigators from Italy and Minnesota who published their findings in the Aug. 16 issue of the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

Fortunately, though, the enlargement does not appear to be associated with atrial fibrillation or other adverse developments, and, instead, seems to occur as a result of the athletes' training.

"Our data do not support ... the clinical concern that LA enlargement [LAE] in athletes may predispose them to adverse clinical sequelae, such as stroke or other embolic events," lead author Antonio Pelliccia, MD, and colleagues wrote. "In contrast to previous studies, our observations show that LA enlargement does not represent a preclinical abnormality in trained athletes but rather likely represents an innocent consequence of chronic and intensive exercise conditioning."

Dr. Pelliccia is a consultant cardiologist with the National Institute of Sports Medicine and the Italian National Olympic Committee in Rome, Italy.

In the study, investigators recruited 1,777 competitive athletes and assessed the distribution and clinical significance of LA size in the context of the athlete's heart as well as the differential diagnosis of structural heart disease and susceptibility to supraventricular arrhythmias.

Among the athletes, 71% were men. In the men, the LA size ranged from 23 to 50 mm and averaged 37 mm. In women, the range was 20 to 46 mm and averaged 32 mm. Among these athletes, 347 (20%) had LAE, defined as a transverse dimension of at least 40 mm. Marked dilation, defined as a transverse dimension of at least 45 mm, was present in 38 (2%).

However, 14 (0.8%) had documented episodes of arrhythmias, of whom five had had atrial fibrillation and nine had had supraventricular tachycardia. These episodes occurred at similar rates among athletes with and without LAE. Therefore, the investigators concluded that, in this setting, LAE was more likely to be the result of physiologic conditioning and was not associated with cardiovascular risk."

Post Edited (Aldo) : 7/12/2006 12:37:40 PM (GMT-6)

New Member

Date Joined Jul 2006
Total Posts : 2
   Posted 7/12/2006 3:58 PM (GMT -6)   
Thanks for the reply.  The thought regarding the relative sizes of other parts has crossed my mind as well.  It seems as if other measures were on the high end of normal.  The athlete article is interesting.  It implies that increased activity may result in increased left atrial diameter.  Along the same lines, it would appear that height and weight would increase the amount of output and thus result in an increased LA size as well.  I have read that the incidence of left atrial enlargement is greater among overweight and obese people, but have failed to find a direct link beteen height and LA diameter. 
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