Sleep-apnea risk and subclinical atherosclerosis in early-middle-aged retired National Football League players

Faith S. Luyster*, Reginald E. Dunn, Diane S. Lauderdale, Mercedes R. Carnethon, Andrew M. Tucker, Robert A. Vogel, Andrew E. Lincoln, Kristen L. Knutson, Elliot J. Pellman, Patrick J. Strollo

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

3 Scopus citations

Abstract

Purpose: Limited data from former National Football League (NFL) players suggest that obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) may be highly prevalent after retirement. It remains unclear whether the high prevalence of OSA in retired players is comparable to nonathletes. This retrospective analysis compared sleep apnea (SA) risk in retired NFL players to a community cohort (CARDIA Sleep study), and examined associations between SA risk and cardiovascular risk factors, including subclinical atherosclerosis. Materials and methods: Retired NFL players (n=122) were matched to CARDIA Sleep participants by age ±2 years (range 37-55 years), body mass index ±2 kg/m2, race, and male sex. Participants underwent electron-beam computed tomography to measure coronary artery calcium (CAC) and completed the Berlin Questionnaire to determine SA risk. The presence of CAC was defined as an Agatston score >0. Results: Retired NFL players had a greater prevalence of high SA risk than the matched CARDIA Sleep participants (27% vs 11.5%, P=0.002). Compared to the CARDIA Sleep participants, retired players were less likely to smoke, and had higher blood pressure, lower fasting glucose levels, and higher cholesterol levels. However, there was no difference in the prevalence of detectable CAC (30% vs 30%, P=1). In both players and the community cohort, SA risk was not significantly associated with CAC after controlling for age, race, and body mass index. Conclusion: Retired NFL players have a greater prevalence of high SA risk but similar prevalence of CAC compared with a well-matched community cohort.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)31-38
Number of pages8
JournalNature and Science of Sleep
Volume9
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 2017

Keywords

  • Cardiovascular risk
  • Coronary artery calcium
  • National football league
  • Sleep apnea

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Applied Psychology
  • Behavioral Neuroscience

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    Luyster, F. S., Dunn, R. E., Lauderdale, D. S., Carnethon, M. R., Tucker, A. M., Vogel, R. A., Lincoln, A. E., Knutson, K. L., Pellman, E. J., & Strollo, P. J. (2017). Sleep-apnea risk and subclinical atherosclerosis in early-middle-aged retired National Football League players. Nature and Science of Sleep, 9, 31-38. https://doi.org/10.2147/NSS.S125228