Former professional players have fewer risks of heart attacks

November 07, 2015

Retired NFL players didn't get a totally clean bill of health, however. As a group they were found to have developed similar amounts of coronary atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries) as the group of non athletes. Although they were less likely to have diabetes, they had higher rates of pre-diabetes, high fasting blood-sugar numbers that increase their risk for developing diabetes in the future.

The study authors' scientific investigation with a high-profile group could have far-reaching implications. More than 60 percent of offensive and defensive linemen at the high-school level, they note, also can be characterized through BMI as overweight or obese.

"The good news is that as long as you remain active and fit, even with a larger body, you can lower your risk for heart disease," Dr. Chang said. "The bad news is that being a professional athlete doesn't eliminate your risk for developing heart disease later in life. Even professional athletes may be at risk for developing heart disease as they age."

Professional athletes should continue exercise regimens after their professional careers are over, Dr. Chang said. For the public at large, the study reaffirms that exercise is an important way to decrease the risk for heart disease, Dr. Chang said.

Source: UT Southwestern Medical Center