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Cardiovascular Risk Factors Studied in Ex-Football Players

Last Updated: October 05, 2009.

Compared to community controls, retired National Football League players have significantly fewer cardiovascular risk factors; but, they have a similar prevalence of coronary atherosclerosis, according to a study in the Sept. 15 issue of the American Journal of Cardiology.

MONDAY, Oct. 5 (HealthDay News) -- Compared to community controls, retired National Football League (NFL) players have significantly fewer cardiovascular risk factors; but, they have a similar prevalence of coronary atherosclerosis, according to a study in the Sept. 15 issue of the American Journal of Cardiology.

Alice Y. Chang, M.D., of the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas, and colleagues compared 201 retired NFL players and two groups of community controls from the population-based Dallas Heart Study and the preventive medicine-based Aerobics Center Longitudinal Study.

The researchers found that the prevalence of diabetes, hypertension, sedentary lifestyle, and metabolic syndrome was significantly lower among retired players than among population-based controls. However, they found that retired players -- especially younger retired players -- had a higher prevalence of impaired fasting glucose and hyperlipidemia, and a similar prevalence of detectable coronary artery calcium (46 versus 48.3 percent). The authors further note that retired players had a similar prevalence of detectable coronary artery calcium as the physically active preventive medicine controls.

"Ongoing follow-up of the Living Heart Foundation cohort will be necessary to determine the correlation of these findings with risk for cardiovascular events," the authors conclude. "Whether the younger generation of retired players or current players may be at greater risk for cardiovascular events or mortality merits further study, especially given the larger body sizes currently required to be competitive and the greater metabolic risks observed in the younger players."

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