Retired National Football League (NFL) linemen have an increased prevalence of risk factors for atherosclerosis and have an increased risk of cardiovascular death compared with nonlinemen and the general population. We evaluated whether playing in lineman position is independently associated with an increased risk of the presence and severity of subclinical atherosclerosis. Players were categorized as linemen if they reported playing on the offensive or defensive line during their careers. Subclinical atherosclerosis was assessed using coronary artery calcium(CAC) scores in 931 retired NFL players (310 linemen, 621 nonlinemen). CAC scores were evaluated for absence of subclinical atherosclerosis (CAC=0), presence of mild subclinical atherosclerosis (CAC 1 to 100), and moderate to severe subclinical atherosclerosis (CAC ≥100).We performed multivariate logistic regression to determine whether the lineman position is independently associated with the presence and severity of subclinical atherosclerosis. Linemen were noted to have a lesser likelihood of absence of subclinical atherosclerosis (CAC = 0, 33.8% vs 41.7%, p = 0.02), a similar likelihood of mild subclinical atherosclerosis (CAC 1 to 100, 33.2% vs 31.8%, p=0.7), and a greater likelihood of moderate to severe subclinical atherosclerosis (CAC >100, 32.9% vs 26.4%, p = 0.04) compared with nonlinemen. Adjusting for demographic and metabolic covariates, lineman status remained independently associated with mild subclinical atherosclerosis (CAC 1 to 100, odds ratio [OR] 1.41, 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.05 to 2.2, p = 0.04) and moderate to severe subclinical atherosclerosis (CAC ≥100, OR 1.67, 95% CI 1.05 to 2.2). The association was attenuated after adjustment for race (CAC 1 to 100, OR 1.24, 95% CI 0.82 to 1.8; CAC > 100, OR 1.59, 95% CI 1.01 to 2.49). In conclusion, lineman status in retired NFL players is associated with presence and severity of subclinical atherosclerosis, which is partly explained by race.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine