Mortality from neurodegenerative disease higher in football players

  • Mackay DF & al.
  • N Engl J Med
  • 21 Oct 2019

  • curated by Dawn O'Shea
  • UK Medical News
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Mortality from neurodegenerative disease and prescribing of dementia-related medications are higher in professional football players, suggest the results of a Scottish study published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

The retrospective cohort study compared mortality from neurodegenerative disease among 7,676 former professional Scottish soccer players and 23,028 controls from the general population matched for sex, age, and degree of social deprivation.

Over a median of 18 years, the data showed that all-cause mortality was lower among players than among controls up to the age of 70 years and was higher thereafter.

However, the proportion of deaths listed with neurodegenerative disease as the primary cause was 1.7 per cent among players compared to 0.5 per cent among controls (HR adjusted for competing risks of death from ischaemic heart disease and death from any cancer 3.45; 95% CI 2.11-5.62; P<.001>

Mortality with neurodegenerative disease listed as the primary or a contributory cause on the death certificate varied according to disease subtype and was highest among those with Alzheimer's disease (HR 5.07; 95% CI 2.92-8.82; P<.001 and lowest among those with parkinson disease ci p=".01).</p">

Dementia-related medications were also prescribed more frequently to former players than to controls (odds ratio [OR] 4.90; 95% CI 3.81-6.31; P<.001>

The study was carried out by the University of Glasgow, the Hampden Sports Clinic, and Queen Elizabeth University Hospital, with funding from the Football Association and the Professional Footballers’ Association.