Long-Term Training Increases Atrial Fibrillation Sustainability in Standardbred Racehorses

Helena Carstensen, Sarah Dalgas Nissen*, Arnela Saljic, Eva Melis Hesselkilde, Arne van Hunnik, Mathias Hohl, Stefan Michael Sattler, Cecilie Fløgstad, Charlotte Hopster-Iversen, Sander Verheule, Michael Böhm, Ulrich Schotten, Thomas Jespersen, Rikke Buhl

*Corresponding author for this work


Atrial fibrillation (AF) is more prevalent in athletes, and currently, the mechanisms are not fully understood. Atrial fibrillation inducibility and stability was investigated in trained and untrained Standardbred racehorses. The horses underwent echocardiography for evaluation of atrial size. High-density mapping during AF was performed, and the presence of structural remodeling, as well as the expression of inflammatory and pro-inflammatory markers in the atria, was studied. Atrial fibrillation sustained significantly longer after tachypacing in the trained horses, whereas no difference in AF inducibility was found. The untrained horses displayed a significant difference in the AF complexity when comparing right and left atria, whereas such difference was not observed in the trained animals. No evidence of increased structural remodeling or inflammation could be identified. Left atrial dimensions were not significantly increased. The increased AF sustainability in trained horses was not related to fibrosis or inflammation as seen in other animal exercise models.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Cardiovascular Translational Research
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2023


  • Athlete’s heart
  • Atrial fibrillation
  • Cardiac remodeling
  • Epicardial mapping
  • Exercise
  • Inflammation


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