A new study being presented today shows that obstructive sleep apnea is common in retired NFL players.
The study involved 167 players. Results show that 60 percent of the linemen had sleep apnea. During sleep they had an average of 18.1 breathing pauses per hour.
The linemen also had an average body mass index of 34.2. A BMI of 30 or higher is considered obese.
Forty-six percent of non-linemen had sleep apnea. They had an average of 13.4 breathing pauses per hour.
The study is consistent with previous research.
A 2003 study of 302 NFL players found that they are more likely to have sleep apnea than other men their age. The risk was highest for offensive and defensive linemen.
A 2005 study found that 97 percent of NFL players are overweight, with a BMI of 25 or higher. Being overweight or obese is one risk factor for sleep apnea.
The death in 2004 of retired NFL star Reggie White focused attention on sleep apnea and the NFL. White died at the age of 43. Reports indicate that sleep apnea may have played a role in his death.
In 2007 the NFL and the NFL Players Association began working together to target heart disease and sleep apnea in retired players.