Footballers’ Concussion Symptom Burden Linked to Hypertension

In HealthDay News
by Healthday

After adjustment for established risk factors, a graded association was identified between concussion symptom score category and odds of later-life hypertension

By Elana Gotkine HealthDay Reporter

WEDNESDAY, Feb. 22, 2023 (HealthDay News) — Concussion burden during the years of active American-style football (ASF) play is associated with postcareer hypertension, according to a research letter published online Feb. 7 in Circulation.

Rachel Grashow, Ph.D., from Harvard Medical School in Boston, and colleagues examined the association between concussion history and later-life hypertension among former professional ASF players. The occurrence and severity of 10 common concussion symptoms were queried over years of active ASF participation among 4,168 participants; estimates of symptom frequency were summed to create a concussion symptom score (CSS).

The researchers observed a significant association for established risk factors for hypertension, including smoking, race, diabetes, age, and body mass index, with prevalent hypertension. After adjustment for these factors, a graded association was identified between CSS category and odds of later-life hypertension and between high CSS exposure and prevalent hypertension. When loss of consciousness, a single highly specific severe concussion symptom, was used in isolation as a surrogate for CSS, the results were consistent.

“Clinicians caring for athletic, military, and civilian populations may wish to consider prior head injury as a risk factor for hypertension,” the authors write. “Future longitudinal studies should investigate the role of blood pressure surveillance and treatment to mitigate later-life adverse cardiovascular and cognitive outcomes among populations exposed to early-life head injury.”

Several authors disclosed financial ties to the NFL Players Association.

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