Sunday, November 11, 2007

Pro Atheletes and Respiratory Problems

Sitting around watching University of Illinois (I take classes through here) beat #1 ranked Ohio State University in football WOOhhooo, I began thinking. What Pro Athletes are out there who have respiratory related problems? I've heard of Pro Athletes who have asthma so there must be more than the couple I have heard of, so the search began. Not only did I have a good amount with asthma but a bunch of information on Pro Athletes with Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA).

I found an article from Sleep Review about Pro Athletes and OSA which was a bit suprising and I will try to make a synopsis of the main points I thought was interesting, but of course feel free to read the whole article.

  • More than 10 years ago, a trend became evident that a high incidence of asthma appeared to be a common condition across the athletes. Numerous Olympic athletes in recent years have been diagnosed with some form of asthma.

  • The incidence of sleep apnea cuts across the entire populace, there is increasing evidence that the condition is quite prevalent in those who are considered particularly fit like professional athletes, especially football players.
  • Over the past 30 years, body size of football players has increased dramatically. Today, more than 300 players in the NFL weigh over 300 pounds. These are the men who are most at risk for obstructive sleep apnea.

  • There have been studies of more than 1,200 retired NFL players with a average age of 52. Sleep apnea among those studied ranged around 40% or so. OSA was most prevalent in linemen with 60% to 70% of them diagnosed with the disorder.

  • Lineman have necks that average 17 inches or more and they weight close to or more than 300lbs, these are factors with them having OSA.

  • A study of 8 randomly selected NFL teams and more than 300 players, including the smaller receivers and defensive backs, found evidence of sleep apnea in 14% of the players, nearly 5 times higher than noted in previous studies of similarly aged adults. The prevalence of the condition in linemen jumped to 34%.

  • One study conducted at the Douai Memorial Hospital in Tokyo noted a high incidence of sleep apnea in sumo wrestlers whose ring weight averages between 300 and 400 pounds.

Reggie White, the star NFL defensive end of 15 years died at the age of 43 suddenly. His death was believed to be related to untreated sleep apnea. Supposedly he had tried CPAP at one time but was unable to continue to wear it due to claustrophobia.

Former Syracuse University star Kevin Mitchell. A three-time All Big East Conference nose guard, who also went pro and won a Super Bowl ring as a linebacker with the San Francisco 49ers, he also died young in his sleep at the age of 36. It was said that OSA was strongly suspected but not fully proven.

I thought there was some interesting information there in that article, and I found others online confirming that article, feel free to google some more information if interested.

Here is a list of Pro Athletes I found to have asthma:


  • Jerome "The Bus" Bettis (NFL star of the Pittsburgh Steelers)
  • Amy Van Dyken (Olympic gold medalist in swimming)
  • Jackie Joyner-Kersee (Olympic gold medalist in track and field)
  • Nancy Hogshead (Olympic gold medalist in swimming)
  • Art Monk (NFL leading receiver for the Washington Redskins until 1995)
  • Emmit Smith (Pro NFL running back)
  • Greg Louganis (Olympic gold medalist in diving)
  • Jim "Catfish" Hunter, (Baseball Hall of Fame pitcher)
  • Isaiah Thomas, (former NBA basketball player)
  • Dominique Wilkens, (former NBA basketball player)
  • Dennis Rodman (former NBA basketball player)
  • Mary Jo Fernandez, (top women's tennis professional in the 1990s)
  • Keith Brantley (Olympic Team Marathon Runner)
  • Bill Koch (Olympic silver medalist in Cross Country Skiing)
  • Kristi Yamaguchi (Gold medal in Olympics figure skating)
  • Jim Ryun (Olympic Silver medalist in track and field)
  • Alexi Grewal (Olympic Gold medalist cycling)
  • Tom Dolan (Olympic Gold Medalist Swimming)
  • Paula Radcliffe (shattered the women's world marathon best in Chicago)
  • Mark Spitz (9 gold medals in swimming)
  • Jan Ullrich (Tour De France winner)
  • Alison Streeter (has swam the English Channel more than 40 times)

I also found a article in the NY Times with a interview of Jerome Bettis talking about his asthma and asthma in general. This article here has a list of more famous people who have asthma if your interested. I was just mainly interested in athletes who have it which here we see there are many and I'm sure many more, this just shows if your patient is able to control it and deal with it, they can do pretty much anything.

Interesting? I think so...Drive on RT's

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