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article imageWeight gain by college football players leads to heart problems

By Tim Sandle     Nov 2, 2019 in Health
A research team have bene examining if college football players' weight gain leads to heart problems. The indications are that college footballers face increased blood pressure, arterial stiffening, and thickening of the heart wall.
The new research comes from Emory Health Sciences, and it demonstrates that the effects of weight gain and high blood pressure found with college football players triggers changes in cardiac structure and function. These effects are classified as adverse, and include left ventricular hypertrophy, which is a condition in which the muscle wall of heart’s left pumping chamber (ventricle) becomes thickened (hypertrophy), presenting a longer-term higher risk of a heart attack occurring.
The researchers recommend that indicative monitoring and early intervention are required for young people taking up the sport.
Unlike most other sports, where early-life participation in endurance activities is associated with a reduction in later-life healthcare problems, American football players seem to be at an increased risk of cardiovascular disease, based on medical findings.
The focus of the research is with the weight gain that college footballers tended to gain (an occupational necessity for playing the game of ‘American’ football). Weight gain is connected to a rise in systolic blood pressure, and in turn, this is linked with arterial stiffening and the development of concentric left ventricular hypertrophy (LVH).
Commenting on the findings, lead scientist Professor Jonathan Kim says: “LVH has been reported in retired professional football players, but our study shows it's happening earlier in players' careers.”
He adds that: “Football is one of the few sports in which participants actively gain significant amounts of weight in a relatively short duration, and this study confirms it can lead to early cardiovascular risk."
Kim doesn’t want to discourage people from taking up the game, but he is recommending that new strategies are adopted by colleges to keep young players healthy. Recommendations include more aerobic activity and other exercises more commonly used for athletes in training.
The research is published in the journal JAMA Cardiology. The research paper is titled “Weight Gain, Hypertension, and the Emergence of a Maladaptive Cardiovascular Phenotype Among US Football Players.”
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