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Br J Sports Med. 2013 May;47(8):521-5. doi: 10.1136/bjsports-2013-092354. Epub 2013 Mar 15.

High ambulatory blood pressure in male professional football players.

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Department of Sports Medicine, Oslo Sports Trauma Research Center, Norwegian School of Sport Sciences, Oslo, Norway.



No data exist on ambulatory blood pressure (ABP) in athletes.


To identify ABP and examine recommended follow-up of high office blood pressure (OBP) in male professional football players and secondary study indicators of sympathetic activity.


Players with high OBP (cases) from a previous screening of 594 players (n=28) were matched for age and ethnicity with players with optimal OBP (controls). High ABP was defined as a mean of ≥135/85 mm Hg during daytime and ≥120/75 mm Hg during night-time. The players replied to questions regarding follow-up of high OBP. High night-time ABP and lack of nocturnal dip (≤10% decline in average BP) were taken as indicators of increased sympathetic activity.


26 cases and 26 controls, mean age 28±4 years, were included. 15 (58%) of the cases had sustained hypertension and 11 (42%) white coat hypertension. Among the controls, 17 (65%) had normotension and 9 (35%) masked hypertension. ABP during night-time was high in 23 (88%) of the cases and in 16 (64%) of the controls, and nocturnal dip was absent in 9 (35%) and 11 (42%), respectively. 10 (38%) of the cases had no follow-up of high OBP.


More than one-third of the players with optimal OBP had masked hypertension during daytime and more than half of all players had high ABP during night-time, which are novel findings in athletes. Together with the reduced nocturnal dip, this might indicate increased sympathetic activity. Follow-up of high OBP after preparticipation screening is random and should be organised.

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