Oslo Sports Trauma Research Center

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Information about project titled 'Blood pressure in elite football players'

Blood pressure in elite football players

Details about the project - category Details about the project - value
Project status: Published
Project manager: Hilde Moseby Berge
Supervisor(s): Kjetil Steine, Erik Ekker Solberg, Thor Einar Andersen
Coworker(s): Gard Gjerdalen


The Union of European Football Association (UEFA) requires that all male players of the elite teams undergo cardiovascular screening.



As a part of the screening of Norwegian football players in 2008, we wanted to study the prevalence of elevated blood pressure (BP), and test if there were any relation to consequences of hypertension as increased left ventricle (LV) mass or diastolic dysfunction.



The project enrolled 594 football players in the two Norwegian elite divisions. BP was measured ≥ 1 hour after physical activity as a mean of two measurements (Dinamap ProCare DPC300N, GE) taken after 5 minutes of sitting and classified according to ESH’s guidelines (see table). High BP is defined ≥ 140/90 mmHg.

The echocardiographic parameters measured were indexed LV mass, relative wall thickness (RWT), heart rate (HR), and peak early (E) and late (A) diastolic transmitral velocities by pulsed Doppler echocardiography. The E/A ratio was calculated as an index for LV diastolic function.

The players reported height and weight, then body mass index (BMI) and body surface area (BSA) were calculated. 24 hours ambulatory blood pressure measurements of the hypertensive players and age-matched controls will be conducted in the autumn 2010.



The players had a mean age of 25 years (range 18-38) and mean BMI of 23,7 kg/m2 (20-29). Mean BP was 122/69 mmHg. 38 players (6%) had hypertension (HT) grade 1, and two had hypertension grade 2 and LV concentric remodeling. There was a significant linear relationship between mean arterial pressure (MAP) and indexed LV mass with regression coefficient 0,258 g/m²/mm Hg (95% CI 0,082 to 0,435), P < 0,01. No such correlation was found between RWT, E/A ratio and BP listed as MAP.



About one fourth of the football players had either hypertension (6,7%) or high normal BP (18%). Elevated BP was associated with increased PP and HR, indicating increased sympathetic activity in these football players. Moreover, those with elevated BP also had significantly increased indexed LV mass, indicating an early start of end organ damage.

Considering that detection of elevated BP at one single occasion in young age may predict manifest high BP later in life, our data support BP screening of athletes.