Share this article on:

Cardiovascular Risk Factors in Football Players

Dixit, Sameer MD1,2; Hecht, Suzanne MD3; Concoff, Andrew MD4

doi: 10.1249/JSR.0b013e31823a362e
Special Populations

Cardiovascular disease is a leading cause of death in the United States. Football players represent a subpopulation that may have a unique risk profile pattern. Studies have suggested that football players may be at increased risk for cardiovascular disease. Paradoxically, there may be a cardioprotective effect associated with activity in general and, specifically, participation at higher levels of football. Our review will attempt to outline the pertinent evidence in regards to cardiovascular risk factors in football players. Specifically, hypertension, hypercholesterolemia, obesity, and sedentary lifestyle will be considered. In addition, we will discuss potential risk factors for investigation including C-reactive protein, homocysteine, insulin resistance, and sleep-disordered breathing. Studies at all levels of competition will be considered, including retired players whose findings may represent lifelong changes that occur as a result of participation in football. Further investigation will be needed to help clarify the relationship between football participation and cardiovascular risk.

1Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, MD; 2Department of Medicine, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, MD; 3Department of Family Medicine and Community Health, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN; and 4Outpatient Musculoskeletal Rehabilitation, St. Jude Heritage Medical Group, Fullerton, CA

Address for correspondence: Sameer Dixit, MD, Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, 10753 Falls Road, Suite 215, Lutherville, MD 21093 (E-mail:

© 2011 American College of Sports Medicine