athlete's heart, common term for an enlarged heart associated with repeated strenuous exercise. As a result of the increased workload required of it, the heart will increase physiologically by enlarging chambers and muscle mass, or hypertrophy by enlarging the size of the chambers and increasing the volume of blood pumped per stroke. Consequently, the heart has to contract less frequently and at rest will beat as few as 40 times per minute as compared with an average number of 70 beats in a normal heart. The condition is not pathological, and there is generally no danger of cardiac disability arising from it.
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