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Despite size, NFL players not more likely to develop heart disease, even after retirement
Date:9/29/2009

DALLAS Sept. 30, 2009 Former professional football players with large bodies don't appear to have the same risk factors for heart disease as their non-athletic counterparts, UT Southwestern Medical Center researchers have found in studying a group of National Football League (NFL) alumni.

Compared to other men in a similar age range, retired NFL players had a significantly lower prevalence of diabetes, hypertension, sedentary lifestyles and metabolic syndrome, the study authors report. The scientific findings appear in the September issue of the American Journal of Cardiology.

"Despite their large body size, retired NFL players do not have a greater prevalence of heart disease risk factors when compared to the general population," said Dr. Alice Chang, assistant professor of internal medicine at UT Southwestern and the study's lead author. "In fact, other factors such as age and high cholesterol levels were better predictors for heart disease than the body size of the former athletes in our study."

When body mass index (BMI) standards are applied, more than half of all professional football players are considered overweight or obese, which is considered an indicator for heart disease risk. Dr. Chang said although a majority of these players are not as fit and active after retirement, they still had fewer risk factors for heart disease than men of the same age and body size from the Dallas Heart Study, a groundbreaking investigation of cardiovascular disease that involves thousands of Dallas County residents.

Staying physically fit earlier in life might have offset the risks associated with a large body size, said the study's senior author, Dr. Benjamin Levine, a professor of internal medicine at UT Southwestern, and director of the Institute for Exercise and Environmental Medicine a joint program of UT Southwestern and Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas.

The study examined 150 former pro athlete
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Contact: Katherine Morales
katherine.morales@utsouthwestern.edu
214-648-3404
UT Southwestern Medical Center
Source:Eurekalert

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