Clinical Scenario: Anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) tear is a devastating knee injury with negative long-term consequences, such as early-onset knee osteoarthritis, biomechanical compensations, and reduced physical activity. Significant reduction in physical activity is a powerful indicator of cardiovascular (CV) disease; therefore, those with a history of ACL injury may be at increased risk for CV disease compared with noninjured individuals. Focused Clinical Question: Do individuals with a history of ACL injury demonstrate negative CV changes compared with those without a history of ACL injury? Summary of Key Findings: Three articles met the inclusion criteria and investigated CV changes after ACL injury. Both cross-sectional studies compared participants with ACL injury with matched controls. Bell et al compared time spent in moderate to vigorous physical activity and step count, whereas Almeida et al compared maximum rate of oxygen consumption, ventilatory thresholds, isokinetic quadriceps strength, and body composition. Collectively, both quantitative studies found that individuals with a history of ACL injury had less efficient CV systems compared with matched controls and/or preoperative data. Finally, a qualitative study of 3506 retired National Football League athletes showed an increased rate of arthritis and knee replacement surgery after an ACL injury when compared with other retired National Football League members, in addition to a >50% increased rate of myocardial infarction. Clinical Bottom Line: A history of ACL injury is a source of impaired physical activity. Preliminary data indicate that these physical activity limitations negatively impair the CV system, and individuals with a history of ACL injury demonstrate lower maximum oxygen consumption, self-reported disability, and daily step count compared with noninjured peers. These complications support the need for greater emphasis on CV wellness. Strength of Recommendation: Consistent findings from 2 cross-sectional studies and 1 survey study suggest level IIB evidence to support that ACL injury is associated with negative CV health.
The authors are with the University of Connecticut, Storrs, CT.
Bell DR, Pfeiffer KA, Cadmus-Bertram LA, et al. Objectively measured physical activity in patients after anterior cruciate ligament reconstruction. Am J Sports Med. 2017;45(8):1893–1900. PubMed ID: 28419817 doi:
Shelbourne KD, Gray T, Haro M. Incidence of subsequent injury to either knee within 5 years after anterior cruciate ligament reconstruction with patellar tendon autograft. Am J Sports Med. 2009;37(2):246–251. PubMed ID: 19109531 doi:
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