Examination of Risk for Sleep-Disordered Breathing Among College Football Players

in Journal of Sport Rehabilitation
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Context: Professional football linemen are at risk for sleep-disordered breathing (SDB) compared with other types of athletes. It is currently unknown whether college football linemen display a similar risk profile. Objective: (1) To determine for the first time whether college football linemen show risk for SDB and (2) test the hypothesis that SDB risk is higher in college football linemen compared with an athletic comparison group. Design: Descriptive laboratory study. Setting: The Health Risk Assessment Laboratory. Participants: Male football linemen (n = 21) and track (n = 19) Division I athletes between the ages of 18 and 22 years. Interventions: Participants completed the Multivariable Apnea Prediction Index and Epworth Sleepiness Scale surveys, validated measures of symptoms of sleep apnea and daytime sleepiness, respectively. Neck and waist circumferences, blood pressure, Modified Mallampati Index (MMPI), and tonsil size were determined, followed by body composition assessment using dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry. Main Outcome Measures: Scores from surveys, anthropometric data, MMPI, and body composition. Results: Survey data demonstrated a deficiency in sleep quality and efficiency, coinciding with increased self-reported symptoms of apnea (Multivariable Apnea Prediction Index = 0.78) in college linemen relative to track athletes. Neck circumference (44.36 cm), waist circumference (107.07 cm), body mass index (35.87 kg/m2), and percent body fat (29.20%), all of which exceeded the clinical predictors of risk for obstructive sleep apnea, were significantly greater in linemen compared with track athletes. Multivariable Apnea Prediction variables were significantly correlated with MMPI, neck circumference, percent body fat, body mass index, and systolic blood pressure (r ≥ .31, P < .05), indicating that college football linemen are at increased risk for SDB. Conclusions: Risk factors for SDB recognized in professional football linemen are also present at the college level. Screening may minimize present or future risk for SDB, as well as the downstream risk of SDB-associated metabolic and cardiovascular disease.

Peck and Marino are with the Laboratory of Systems Physiology, Department of Kinesiology, University of North Carolina at Charlotte, Charlotte, NC, USA. Renzi is with the Department of Biological Sciences, University of North Carolina at Charlotte, Charlotte, NC, USA. Peach and Gaultney are with the Department of Psychological Science, University of North Carolina at Charlotte, Charlotte, NC, USA.

Marino (jmarin10@uncc.edu) is corresponding author.
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