When you see professional football players on the field they appear invincible, but life after football often means they may be more vulnerable to health problems than the fans watching them every Sunday.
Research suggests that some pro-football players, especially the largest ones, face increased risks for cardiovascular disease. That's why ex-Atlanta Falcons Billy "Whiteshoes" Johnson, Tommy Nobis and Chris Calloway, former Georgia Bulldog Horace King, ex-New England Patriot Chris Slade and more than 70 other retired NFL players will be screened for a variety of health-related issues June 3 at Emory Crawford Long Hospital.
Screenings will include calcium CT scoring to identify the risk of heart disease as well as echocardiograms, cholesterol and blood pressure testing and assessments for sleep apnea. The event, hosted by the Living Heart Foundation (LHF) in partnership with Emory Healthcare and the NFL Players Association (NFLPA), will take place during the 2007 NFLPA's Retired Players Convention in Atlanta.
"We're proud to support this important, possibly lifesaving, event," says Dr. Douglas Morris, Director of the Emory Heart and Vascular Center . "The goal is to identify potential health risks in these former athletes, and educate and empower them to lead healthy lifestyles."
This screening and others held around the country will also contribute to research conducted by the LHF exploring the relationship between professional football players and cardiovascular disease. Emory HealthCare physicians, Dr. Paolo Raggi and Dr. Arthur Stillman, are assisting with this research and will co-author the study.
"We know that body mass is a major factor in heart disease, and we know that football players are often very large people," says Dr. Arthur "Archie" Roberts, a former NFL quarterback, cardiac surgeon and founder of the Living Heart Foundation. Data collected from about 1,200 former players screened during the three-year study will be analyzed by the Mayo Clinic, according to Dr. Roberts.
"This information will be compiled into the first of its kind medical report examining the rate of heart disease among professional football players - a relationship that anecdotal evidence has suggested is quite strong," says Dr. Roberts.
The screening event will begin Saturday, June 2 with assessments for Special Olympic athletes and continue Sunday, June 3 with the retired NFL players. Specific offerings include:
- Electrocardiograms and Echocardiograms
- Carotid vascular ultrasound
- Blood sugar, triglycerides, liver enzyme and lipid profiles
- C-reactive protein blood test
- Total cholesterol and blood pressure analyses
- CT image of calcium in heart arteries
- Nutrition, exercise and lifestyle assessments
- Prostate cancer blood screening
- Body fat analysis and body mass index
The participating athletes will conclude their assessment with an individual meeting with a health professional who will review and discuss the available preliminary results. Final test results will be mailed four to six weeks later.
Media Notes: Players, cardiologist, NFL team doctors (including Atlanta Falcons team doctor, Randy Cronic, MD) and other officials will be available for interviews on Sunday, June 3 from 9:00 a.m. to Noon at Emory Crawford Long Hospital, 550 Peachtree St, NE. 6th Floor, Atlanta, Ga.
To learn more about the Living Heart Foundation's screening events, visit: http://www.livingheartfoundation.org.
The Emory Heart and Vascular Center encompasses all cardiology and vascular services and research at Emory University Hospital, Emory Crawford Long Hospital Carlyle Fraser Heart Center, the Andreas Gruentzig Cardiovascular Center of Emory University and The Emory Clinic and the Emory Cardiac Imaging Center.