Report: Former football stars must be wary of heart disease

Nov 22, 2010

Football players must beware of heart disease

While several health conditions that disproportionately affect former National Football League players are well-known - concussions and bad knees, among others - the fact that these athletes also suffer seriously elevated risks of heart disease may not be common knowledge, according to a recent report in the New York Times.

Former University of Iowa standout linebacker Mike Quast - who was drafted by the New York Jets in 1990 but never played in the NFL - told the Times "I don't want to be one of those guys you pick up the paper and read about," in reference to the several retired professional football players who have died of heart disease while still young.

Fortunately for the former players, the NFL now offers a cardiovascular health screening program, according to the Times. Founded by a former star college quarterback turned heart surgeon, the screenings are aimed at reducing the increased risk of heart disease-related death among football players, which is significantly higher than the average for men of their age and size, the newspaper reports.

Heart disease is not a problem limited to former NFL players, however. Everyone should be regularly screened to catch problems early and keep health and life insurance rates down as a result.

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