(Ivanhoe Newswire) – Despite their massive size, National Football
League players have similar cardiovascular disease risk factors compared to
other young men in the general population, according to a new study.
In recent years, NFL players have gotten much bigger and sporadic deaths of
active and young retired players have raised questions about an associated
increase in cardiovascular disease risk factors.
For the study, researchers at Union Memorial Hospital in Baltimore collected
health data, including height, weight, body composition, total cholesterol
and blood pressure, from 504 active, veteran football players from 12 NFL
teams. That information was compared to data gathered from nearly 2,000 men
between the ages of 23 and 35 who participated in the Coronary Artery Risk
Development in Young Adults (CARDIA) study.
The NFL players were taller and heavier than the CARDIA men, but despite
their size, the professional players had lower average fasting glucose
levels and a significantly lower prevalence of impaired fasting glucose.
There were no significant differences between the two groups in the
prevalence of high total cholesterol, high LDL-C, low HDL-C or high
However, the NFL players did have a significantly higher prevalence of high
blood pressure and prehypertension. The researchers said this discovery has
led the NFL to order a league-wide survey and in-depth investigation to help
its players lower their risk of developing hypertension.
But overall, the players' superior physical activity is probably an
important factor in lessening the effect of large size on some of the
measured cardiovascular disease risk factors, researchers said.
SOURCE: Journal of the American Medical Association, May 27,