Nav: Home

Field position may impact blood pressure in football players

December 05, 2016

Football at the college-level is associated with increased blood pressure and changes in size, shape, structure and function of the heart, especially among linemen, according to a new study published today in JACC: Cardiovascular Imaging.

The study aimed to validate prior observations that football participation led to an increase in blood pressure and an enlarged heart muscle with a primary emphasis on examining the potential health implications of this form of "athlete's heart." "Athlete's heart" is a term to describe the changes seen in the heart of an athlete who engages in high-levels of physical activity.

"Our study confirmed associations between football participation, high blood pressure and cardiac remodeling. Importantly, our findings suggest that heart remodeling in this population may have some maladaptive, potentially pathologic qualities," said Aaron L. Baggish, M.D., associate director of the Cardiovascular Performance Program at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston and the study's senior author.

Researchers analyzed data from the Harvard Athlete Initiative, an ongoing research program to address issues relevant to athlete health and exercise physiology. For this study, researchers enrolled first-year athletes to capture their initial season of college-level participation. The study period began at the time of enrollment and lasted for the entire football season--about 90 days.

Of 190 eligible football participants enrolled between 2008 and 2014, 87 were included in the study cohort. Athletes who missed more than three days of training for any reason or had echocardiographic images unsuitable for analysis were excluded. The final cohort included 30 linemen and 57 non-linemen.

Prior to the season, 57 percent of linemen and 51 percent of non-linemen met the criteria for pre-hypertension. However, after the season 90 percent of linemen met the criteria for pre-hypertension or Stage 1 hypertension while only 49 percent of non-linemen, similar to the preseason, had elevated blood pressure.

These changes in blood pressure, particularly among athletes who played at the lineman field positions, were accompanied by thickening of the heart walls and a mild but significant decline in contractile function. Contractile function was measured using strain echocardiography, a relatively new imaging technique that has been shown to predict health outcomes across numerous patient populations. Importantly, the pattern of heart remodeling seen among football lineman differs markedly from the "athletic heart" patterns common among endurance athletes and more closely approximate patterns seen in older populations with overt hypertension and hypertensive heart disease.

"While this isn't the first time we've seen that different types of sports participation results in varying forms of cardiac remodeling, this is the first time we've identified an athletic population that appears to remodel with maladaptive attributes," Baggish said. "This type of change to the heart is concerning in this population of young, otherwise healthy athletes and raises questions about long term health implications."

Study limitations include that possible confounding factors known to impact blood pressure were not standardized and the duration of the study was relatively brief as many athletes accrue many years of football participation.

In an accompanying editorial, William A. Zoghbi, M.D., chairman of the cardiology department at Houston Methodist DeBakey Heart and Vascular Center in Houston, noted the large exclusion of players from the study but said "the findings are important and point to a different cardiac adaptive response in linemen compared to non-linemen. While questions abound, the current investigation has highlighted this unusual adverse cardiac remodeling in sports with the hope of alerting players and their health care professionals, furthering research, and ultimately addressing ways to protect and improve the health of all athletes in team sports."
-end-
The American College of Cardiology is a 52,000-member medical society that is the professional home for the entire cardiovascular care team. The mission of the College is to transform cardiovascular care and to improve heart health. The ACC leads in the formation of health policy, standards and guidelines. The College operates national registries to measure and improve care, offers cardiovascular accreditation to hospitals and institutions, provides professional medical education, disseminates cardiovascular research and bestows credentials upon cardiovascular specialists who meet stringent qualifications. For more, visit acc.org.

The Journal of the American College of Cardiology is the most widely read cardiovascular journal in the world and is the top ranked cardiovascular journal for its scientific impact. JACC is the flagship for a family of journals that publish peer-reviewed research on all aspects of cardiovascular disease. JACC: Cardiovascular Interventions, JACC: Cardiovascular Imaging and JACC: Heart Failure also rank among the top ten cardiovascular journals for impact. JACC: Clinical Electrophysiology and JACC: Basic Translational Science are the newest journals in the JACC family. Learn more at JACC.org.

American College of Cardiology

Related Blood Pressure Articles:

Arm cuff blood pressure measurements may fall short for predicting heart disease risk in some people with resistant high blood pressure
A measurement of central blood pressure in people with difficult-to-treat high blood pressure could help reduce risk of heart disease better than traditional arm cuff readings for some patients, according to preliminary research presented at the American Heart Association's Hypertension 2019 Scientific Sessions.
Heating pads may lower blood pressure in people with high blood pressure when lying down
In people with supine hypertension due to autonomic failure, a condition that increases blood pressure when lying down, overnight heat therapy significantly decreased systolic blood pressure compared to a placebo.
The Lancet Neurology: High blood pressure and rising blood pressure between ages 36-53 are associated with smaller brain volume and white matter lesions in later years
A study of the world's oldest, continuously-studied birth cohort tracked blood pressure from early adulthood through to late life and explored its influence on brain pathologies detected using brain scanning in their early 70s.
Blood pressure control is beneficial, is it not?
Until recently, physicians had generally assumed that older adults benefit from keeping their blood pressure below 140/90 mmHg.
The 'blue' in blueberries can help lower blood pressure
A new study published in the Journal of Gerontology Series A has found that eating 200g of blueberries every day for a month can lead to an improvement in blood vessel function and a decrease in systolic blood pressure in healthy people.
More Blood Pressure News and Blood Pressure Current Events

Best Science Podcasts 2019

We have hand picked the best science podcasts for 2019. Sit back and enjoy new science podcasts updated daily from your favorite science news services and scientists.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Erasing The Stigma
Many of us either cope with mental illness or know someone who does. But we still have a hard time talking about it. This hour, TED speakers explore ways to push past — and even erase — the stigma. Guests include musician and comedian Jordan Raskopoulos, neuroscientist and psychiatrist Thomas Insel, psychiatrist Dixon Chibanda, anxiety and depression researcher Olivia Remes, and entrepreneur Sangu Delle.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#537 Science Journalism, Hold the Hype
Everyone's seen a piece of science getting over-exaggerated in the media. Most people would be quick to blame journalists and big media for getting in wrong. In many cases, you'd be right. But there's other sources of hype in science journalism. and one of them can be found in the humble, and little-known press release. We're talking with Chris Chambers about doing science about science journalism, and where the hype creeps in. Related links: The association between exaggeration in health related science news and academic press releases: retrospective observational study Claims of causality in health news: a randomised trial This...