NFL Linemen Predisposed To Cardiovascular Disease

Armen Hareyan's picture
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Retired National Football League (NFL) linemen are more than twice as likely as the general population to have a syndrome that puts them at risk of heart disease, stroke and other cardiovascular (CV) diseases, according to a recent study by the Living Heart Foundation (LHF). Key to addressing these conditions successfully, however, is early intervention, including diagnostic health screening.

Ultrasound is one of the most widely used and accepted forms of diagnostic imaging to evaluate and diagnose cardiovascular disease. Its most common applications include assessing diseases of the heart valves, finding abnormal blood flow patterns and detecting a thickening of the heart walls.

To help draw attention to heart disease and the specific cardiovascular challenges of athletes, Siemens today announces a year-long partnership with the Living Heart Foundation. Siemens is kicking off the sponsorship by loaning three ACUSON Sequoia ultrasound systems to LHF's annual Super Bowl CV screening event, taking place this year on Thursday, January 31 through Friday, February 1 in Scottsdale, Ariz. More than 60 former NFL players, including Paul Warfield and Marv Fleming of the 1972 undefeated Miami Dolphins, and Hall of Famers Harry Carson and Merlin Olson, will be participating in the screenings.

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"Professional athletes, who often make their living related to being big and strong, tend to suffer in retirement from the side effects of being so large, including heart disease, sleep apnea, diabetes, high cholesterol and the Metabolic Syndrome," said Archie Roberts, M.D., founder and director of the Living Heart Foundation, as well as a former NFL quarterback. "Curiously, this health profile is not unlike that of an increasing number of large men and women in our general population."

"Fortunately, with early intervention, including diagnostic imaging, athletes can take proactive steps to curb these conditions. We are extremely grateful to Siemens for providing the equipment to help these athletes receive the best testing possible for identifying heart-related problems," says Dr. Roberts, a former heart surgeon.

The LHF seeks to draw attention to the cardiovascular risks found among professional athletes, especially football players, with large body mass. During screenings, players receive a series of tests, including electrocardiograms, cardiac and carotid artery ultrasounds, blood tests, body mass composition, as well as other analyses.

"Heart disease is the leading cause of death in America today, and Siemens has a long-standing interest in helping those at risk to identify the early warning signs and take appropriate action," said Klaus Hambuechen, Chief Executive Officer, Ultrasound, Siemens Medical Solutions. "We are proud to support the Living Heart Foundation and its screening efforts with these professional athletes who are often susceptible to heart disease."

Siemens will be supplying LHF with three ACUSON Sequoia ultrasound systems, to be shipped to each location that conducts the heart screenings throughout the year. With over 12,000 units installed, the ACUSON Sequoia platform is one of Siemens' most popular and comprehensive systems. The technology provides clinicians with advanced capabilities for performing cardiac mechanics studies, intracardiac echocardiography, and vascular applications.

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