Heart Health Screenings for Former NFL Players


When thinking about the health concerns of former NFL players, concussions or other physical injuries are what typically come to mind. Yet, heart health is an important factor to keep an eye on for all athletes as well.

To this end, Ascension Seton teamed up with the Living Heart Foundation, a non-profit organization founded by former NFL quarterback Archie Roberts, to provide free heart health screenings to former NFL players ranging in age from their late 20s to their 70s.

Football Players with HeartNFL-2

A study from the Center for Disease Control (CDC) showed that certain types of heart disease in NFL players tend to be more frequently associated with the position the men play, among other factors. For example, defensive linemen have a 42 percent higher risk of heart disease-related death compared to the general population.

Living Heart Foundation research conducted under Roberts, who went on to become a heart surgeon, shows that one reason retired football players carry a higher risk of heart disease is because the players are so much physically larger compared to the average person. A heavier weight also means a higher risk of diabetes and other health concerns. The CDC study showed that players with a BMI higher than 30 during their professional career were twice as likely to die from heart disease.

After retirement, many players continue consuming the large amount of calories necessary to fuel their active lifestyles, yet their daily life becomes more sedentary. Screening can find heart health concerns early to ensure prompt diagnosis and treatment, including making necessary lifestyle changes.

Heart health screenings were also offered for high school athletes, who had the chance to meet with a few of their NFL role models while learning how to be more proactive about their own health.

“Everyone sees football players as invincible gladiators, but after years of playing this sport professionally, it can take its toll on the body,” said Dr. George Rodgers, a Ascension Seton Heart Institute cardiologist. “We’re honored and excited to partner with Living Heart Foundation and provide Seton’s expertise and health screening technologies to these players.”