High Prevalence of Hypertension Among Collegiate Football Athletes
Background—The prevalence of hypertension among collegiate football athletes is not well described.
Methods and Results—A retrospective cohort of all male athletes who participated in varsity athletics at a National Collegiate Athletic Association Division I university between 1999 and 2012 was examined through chart review. Mandatory annual preparticipation physical examinations included blood pressure, body mass index, medication use, and supplement use. Prevalence of hypertension was compared between football and nonfootball athletes. A mixed-effects linear regression model examined change in blood pressure over time. Six hundred thirty-six collegiate athletes, including 323 football players, were identified. In the initial year of athletic participation, 19.2% of football athletes had hypertension and 61.9% had prehypertension. The prevalence of hypertension was higher among football athletes than in nonfootball athletes in their initial (19.2% versus 7.0%; P<0.001) and final (19.2% versus 10.2%; P=0.001) years of athletic participation. In adjusted analyses, the odds of hypertension were higher among football athletes in the initial year (adjusted odds ratio, 2.28; 95% confidence interval, 1.21–4.30) but not in the final year (adjusted odds ratio, 1.25; 95% confidence interval, 0.69–2.28). Over the course of their collegiate career, football athletes had an annual decrease in systolic blood pressure (−0.82 mm Hg; P=0.002), whereas nonfootball athletes did not (0.18 mm Hg; P=0.58).
Conclusions—Hypertension and prehypertension were common among collegiate football athletes, and football athletes were more likely to have hypertension compared with male nonfootball athletes. This presents a potential cardiovascular risk in a young population of athletes. Strategies for increasing awareness, prevention, and treatment are needed.
- Received July 9, 2013.
- Accepted October 18, 2013.
- © 2013 American Heart Association, Inc.