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Mayo Clinic finds retired NFL players at increased risk for heart problems
Date:3/27/2008

CHICAGO -- Screening for cardiovascular problems in elite-level football players should begin in high school and continue throughout the lives of college and professional players. Mayo Clinic physicians based that conclusion on the results of their new study of the cardiovascular health of 233 retired National Football League (NFL) players.

The Mayo data showed that 82 percent of NFL players under age 50 had abnormal narrowing and blockages in arteries, compared to the general population of the same age. This finding suggests that the former athletes face increased risk of experiencing high blood pressure, heart attack or stroke. The report on research conducted by the Mayo Clinic Arizona group will be presented next week at the American College of Cardiology Annual Scientific Session in Chicago.

Significance of the Mayo Clinic Study

This is the first and largest study to measure comprehensive cardiovascular performance measures on retired NFL athletes, ages 35 to 65. Its findings add to the emerging portrait of poor heart health among this group of retired athletes. The findings also suggest that players as young as high school age who are engaged in serious competitive-conference level of training and play may benefit from regular cardiovascular screening. What we hope to emphasize with our findings is that all NFL players -- retired or not -- need to undergo cardiovascular health evaluation because they may have changes in heart and vessel conditions that we can treat so they dont experience problems later in life, says Robert Hurst, M.D., Mayo Clinic cardiologist and lead researcher.

Adds chair of cardiovascular diseases at Mayo Clinic in Arizona and researcher Bijoy Khandheria, M.D.: Cardiovascular screening is readily available and needs to become a routine part of serious football players health care, beginning at the high school level for those who are engaged in a highly competitive and rigorous level of t
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Contact: Traci Klein
newsbureau@mayo.edu
507-284-5005
Mayo Clinic
Source:Eurekalert

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