NFL players not at special risk for heart disease

By Tom Nordlie • Published: August 24th, 2009
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

Sports are supposed to be good for your health.

But is that always true?

Maybe not.

Some professional football players are HUGE, and might be at greater risk for cardiovascular disease than average men.

However, according to a study published recently in the Journal of the American Medical Association, gridiron gladiators are actually in good shape, heart-wise.

In the study, researchers looked at five-hundred active, veteran players from twelve N-F-L teams.

Data on their cardiovascular health were compared with data from almost two-thousand men from the general population.

The results showed football players compared favorably for many risk factors, including total cholesterol and blood glucose levels.

Also, the athletes were far less likely to smoke than average men.

However, N-F-L players typically had higher body mass index and higher blood pressure. Those things can boost cardiovascular risk.

The statistics varied by position.

Offensive and defensive linemen were the heaviest, and had the greatest body-fat percentages. Wide receivers and defensive backs were much lighter and leaner.

Overall, football players had a risk profile similar to that of the general population.

No doubt the intense physical activity involved in playing football helped.

The researchers proposed further studies to parse things out, examining strength training, longtime use of anti-inflammatory drugs, salt intake and sleep-disordered breathing.

At any rate, the take-home message for the public is simple: Stay active and shun excess pounds.

If you do those things, you’ve got a good chance of putting up big numbers on the health scoreboard.