Dissertation Anders Wold Bjerring 23.12.2022

Dissertation: The early development of the Athlete's heart

On January 29th, 2021, Anders Wold Bjerring defended his thesis titled "The early development of the Athlete's heart" for the degree of PhD at the University of Oslo (UiO). 

Published 7/8/2024
A boy wearing glasses
Photo of Anders Wold Bjerring/ Photographer Piritta Nyberg, OUS

Digital Public Defence: Anders Wold Bjerring - Institute of Clinical Medicine (uio.no)

Adjudication committee

  • First opponent: Senior Consultant, PhD, Stefano Caselli, Klinik Im Park - HerzGefässZentrum Zürich, Switzerland
  • Second opponent: Senior Consultant, PhD, Erik Ekker Solberg, Diakonhjemmet Hospital
  • Third member and chair of the evaluation committee: Associate Professor Kirsten Krogh-Sørensen, University of Oslo

Chair of the Defence
Associate Professor Lars Fjellbirkeland, Faculty of Medicine, University of Oslo

Principal Supervisor
Consultant Cardiologist, PhD, Sebastian Imre Sarvari, Oslo University Hospital

Summary of the thesis
The athlete’s heart is a term used to describe the changes in morphology and function seen in the hearts of athletes. While these changes can be substantial, our knowledge of the early development is limited. This is of particular importance as the Athlete’s heart can mimic pathological conditions and in susceptible individuals, intense endurance exercise can be detrimental to cardiac health.

In his thesis «The early developement of the Athlete’s Heart» Anders Wold Bjerring has followed a cohort of promising young cross-country skiers from age 12 to age 18 and described the changes in morphology and function using traditional and novel echocardiographic methods. Participants also underwent cardiopulmonary exercise tests and rigorous assessment of exercise regimes.

At age 12, the cross-country skiers already had both greater wall thickness and greater chamber volumes than controls. These changes continued throughout adolescence. At age 18, the cohort contained some of the most promising young cross-country skiers in Norway and most had undergone substantial cardiac changes.

S​urprisingly, cardiac remodelling was not uniform in nature, but dynamic with distinct phases of concentric and eccentric remodelling. This was not predicted by the prevailing hypothesis but provides new insight into the development of the athlete’s heart.