Increased exercise intensity, high dietary protein intake, and frequent use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs have been described as independent contributors to impaired renal function (IRF) in active athletes. However, information is scant on the prevalence and determinants of IRF in athletes during life after sport.
PURPOSE: Investigation of the prevalence and determinants of IRF in a cohort of retired National Football League (NFL) players.
METHODS: The analysis included 1,199 retired NFL players (aged 52.4 ± 12.9 years, 56.3% African-American) that underwent a comprehensive health screening with the NFL Player Care Foundation. Renal function, as assessed by estimated glomerular filtration rate (eGFR), was computed using the Chronic Kidney Disease Epidemiology Collaboration function. IRF was defined as eGFR<90 ml/min/1.73 m2. Multivariable-adjusted logistic regression was employed to determine the association between traditional cardiometabolic risk factors and IRF.
RESULTS: The prevalence of IRF was 71.2% and was higher among African American individuals. Independent associations between IRF and hypertension (OR: 1.29; 95%CI: 1.11-1.36; p = 0.03) and obesity by waist-to-height ratio (OR: 1.17; 95%CI: 1.09-1.29; p < 0.001) were observed. Our analyses did not yield independent associations between career-specific variables, such as years of NFL experience, and IRF.
CONCLUSION: Our findings suggest that central adiposity and hypertension are two significant determinants of impaired renal function in former NFL players. The high prevalence of IRF in this population calls for further studies to assess the impact of the cumulative burden of risk factors over time. These studies will aid in improving the prevention and early diagnosis of chronic kidney disease in retired professional players.