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Blood pressure in professional male football players in Norway

Berge, Hilde M.a; Gjerdalen, Gard F.b; Andersen, Thor Einara,c; Solberg, Erik E.d; Steine, Kjetile

doi: 10.1097/HJH.0b013e32835eb5fe

Objectives: Scarce data exist on blood pressure (BP) and secondary effects in young athletes. Hence, we aimed to study prevalence of high BP (≥140/90 mmHg) and the association to arterial compliance, left ventricle mass and left atrium volume.

Methods: A Norwegian preparticipation cardiac screening of male professional football players enrolled 493 white European, 47 matched controls, 49 black and 53 players of other ethnicity. BP was measured as a mean of two measurements. Height and weight were self-reported, and body surface area (BSA) was calculated. The echocardiographic parameters were indexed to BSA. Heart rates (HRs) by electrocardiography and pulse pressure (PP) were considered as surrogates for sympathetic activity. Arterial compliance was calculated as stroke volumeBSA/PP.

Results: The players mean age was 25 years (18–38) and mean BP 122/69 ± 11/8 mmHg. There were no significant differences in prevalence of hypertension between all players, 39 (7%), and controls, four (9%), or between white, 32 (7%), and black, five (10%), players. There was a significant positive linear relationship between BP and left ventricle massBSA, left atrium volumeBSA, stroke volumeBSA, HR and PP, and negative relationship to arterial complianceBSA.

Conclusion: Although the prevalence of high BP in professional football players was low, our data indicate a novel association between elevated BP and reduced arterial compliance, increased left ventricle mass and left atrium volume even in young athletes. This emphasizes closer focus on BP measurements and standardized follow-up after preparticipation screening of athletes.

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aOslo Sports Trauma Research Center, Norwegian School of Sport Sciences

bSection of Vascular Investigations, Oslo University Hospital, Aker

cThe Football Association of Norway

dDepartment of Medicine, Diakonhjemmet Hospital, Oslo

eDepartment of Cardiology, Akershus University Hospital, Lørenskog, Norway

Correspondence to Hilde Moseby Berge, MD, Oslo Sports Trauma Research Center, Norwegian School of Sport Sciences, P.O. Box 4014 Ullevål Stadion, 0806 Oslo, Norway. Tel: +47 905 83930; e-mail:

Abbreviations: BP, blood pressure; BSA, body surface area; HR, heart rate; LAESV, left atrium end-systolic volume; LVIDd, left ventricle internal dimensions; LVMIBSA, left ventricle mass indexed to BSA; MAP, mean arterial pressure; PP, pulse pressure; PWTd, posterior wall thickness in/at end diastole; RWT, relative wall thickness; SAC, systemic arterial compliance; SV, stroke volume

Received 5 July, 2012

Revised 14 November, 2012

Accepted 8 January, 2013

ESH 2010, Oslo, poster: ‘Elevated BP in Norwegian male elite football players is associated with increased sympathetic activity and LV mass’. IOC World Conference on prevention of Injury & Illness in Sport, Monaco, 2011, abstract: ‘Elevated BP in Norwegian elite football players is associated with both increased sympathetic activity and LV mass’. Published in BJSM 2011; 45 : 316. ISH 2012, Sydney, poster: ‘Elevated BP in young athletes is associated with increased left ventricle mass and reduced arterial compliance’.

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© 2013 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.