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Thursday, November 08, 2018

Football lineman may be damaging hearts as well as brains

Dr. J Kin along with Dr. Aaron Baggish, who directs the Cardiovascular Performance Program at MGH, studied a group of NCAA Div.1 college football lineman and compared results with non-lineman over the course of a single season. (1)

They reported that the lineman were all normotensive preseason while post season , 30% had developed Stage one hypertension and 60% developed pre-hypertension. The non-lineman improved their Global Longitudinal Strain measurement (as determined by speckle echocardiography)while the lineman worsened theirs.Concentric hypertrophy was noted in the lineman while the non-linemen displaced eccentric hypertrophy.

This was after a single season.Consider that many high school player play for four years and a number then have a college career.

The authors concluded:
... participation at a lineman field position may lead to a form of sport-related myocardial remodeling that is pathologic rather than adaptive. Future study will be required to determine if targeted efforts to control blood pressure, minimize weight gain, and to include an element of aerobic conditioning in this subset of athletes may attenuate this process and translate into tangible downstream health benefits."
I have blogged before about the occurrence of CTE in collegiate football players quoting a study from the Boston University CTE center. The authors reported 48 cases who only played high school and college ball.

There have also been several articles reporting imaging abnormalities in young players with both concussive and subconcussive head trauma.Now we seem to have evidence of subclinical heart damage  that like subconcussive blows might lead to downstream health problems.

See reference 2 for a good summary and commentary regarding Kin's article.or see herehttps://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1936878X16307197?via%3Dihub

1)Lin, J Blood pressure and left ventricular remodeling among American style football players.
JACC,vol 9, number 12 dec. 2016.

2) Zoghbi WA , Cardia remodeling in American style football player. Field Position Matters. JACC
2016 Dec 9 9 (1) 1377-1379    

addendum 1/31/19 Zoghbi reference added.          

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