February 10, 2023 – Former professional football players with a history of concussions may have elevated risk for high blood pressure, according to a new study.
Researchers at the Football Players Health Study at Harvard University found that the chance that former pro players will be diagnosed with high blood pressure—a risk factor for both cardiovascular and cognitive dysfunction—rises along with the number of concussions the players experienced.
Rachel Grashow, director of epidemiological research initiatives for the Football Players Health Study and a research scientist in Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health’s Department of Environmental Health, co-led the study. The research was based on a survey of more than 4,000 former National Football League players.
The results of the study, published February 7 in the journal Circulation, suggest that high blood pressure may be one of the drivers of cognitive decline in former pro players. Previous studies have found strong links between cognitive decline and professional football play.
“If players, families, and physicians are aware of the cardiovascular effects of head injury, we have a better chance of protecting both their cardiovascular health and long-term cognitive health,” said Grashow in a press release from Harvard Medical School (HMS).
Read the HMS press release: For Former Football Players, Concussion and Hypertension Go Hand in Hand
Read a HealthDay article: Football, Concussions and High Blood Pressure Often Go Together
Examining the potential health dangers of pro football—and how to protect players (Harvard Chan School feature)