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Description and Comparison of Preseason and Postseason Blood Pressure Measures Among Collegiate Athletes

A Prospective Observational Study

Arena, Sara, PT, DScPT1; LaBelle, Lauren, SPT1; Larsen, Jennifer, SPT1; Palomino, Lia, SPT1; Hew-Butler, Tamara, DPM, PhD2; Peterson, Edward, PhD3

Cardiopulmonary Physical Therapy Journal: April 2019 - Volume 30 - Issue 2 - p 53–60
doi: 10.1097/CPT.0000000000000085
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Purpose: Growing evidence suggests that suboptimal blood pressure (BP) measures among professional athletes parallel rates among nonathletes; however, BP measures among collegiate athletes of varied sports or the relationship of this measure to body mass index (BMI) has not been reported. The primary purpose of this study is to describe and compare preseason and postseason BP measures among collegiate athletes of varied sports and sexes. A secondary purpose is to describe correlations between a BP measurement and BMI during the course of a competitive season.

Methods: A prospective observational study using a sample of convenience assessed resting BP and BMI of athletes from men's soccer, cross country, and swimming; and women's volleyball, cross country, and swimming at one Division I university. Blood pressure measures were further classified as elevated, stage 1, or stage 2 hypertensive (HTN) using previously established criteria. Descriptive statistics reported athlete demographics, BP, and BMI. A pairwise t test compared and determined differences in preseason and postseason BP. Correlations of BP with BMI were examined. Statistical significance was set at P ≤ .05.

Results: Seventy-four athletes met preseason and postseason inclusion criteria. Preseason and postseason right-sided BP assessment identified 10.8% (n = 8), 5.4% (n = 4), and 1.3% (n = 1) and then 17.6% (n = 13), 17.6% (n = 13), and 1.3% (n = 1) athletes to have Elevated, stage 1 HTN, and stage 2 HTN measures, respectively. All BP measures demonstrated significant preseason to postseason increases (P = .001) in all sports with significantly higher BP increases in men compared with women. Furthermore, positive correlations between systolic BP and BMI were identified.

Conclusions: Elevated and HTN BP measures were identified among collegiate athletes. Although significant increases in BP over time were detected, causative factors warrant further examination; however, increase in BMI may be a contributing factor. Findings of this study support routine BP assessment by physical therapists serving the collegiate athlete population.

1Physical Therapy Program, Human Movement Science Department, School of Health Science, Oakland University, Rochester, MI

2Exercise Science Program, Human Movement Science Department, School of Health Science, Oakland University, Rochester, MI

3Department of Public Health Sciences, Henry Ford Health System, Detroit, MI

Correspondence: Sara Arena PT, DScPT, Physical Therapy Program, Human Movement Science Department, School of Health Science, Oakland University, Human Health Building, Room 3152, 433 Meadowbrook Road, Rochester, MI 48309-4401 (arena@oakland.edu).

Supported by Oakland University Prevention Research Center Award and Oakland University Physical Therapy Program.

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.

Institutional Review Board Approval: Oakland University Reference #480708.

© 2019 Cardiovascular and Pulmonary Section, APTA
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