Soccer and other sports increasingly popular with people aged 35+
Research from the University of Sydney and Royal North Shore Hospital provides insights into cardiac risk among footballers of 'masters' age (35 years and older).
In what is believed to be the first study to assess cardiac knowledge and beliefs in this higher-risk amateur football (soccer) group, researchers have found that one in five players experience one or more potential cardiac symptoms while playing in the past year, but only one in four of them sought medical attention.
The findings from the survey were published today in the Royal Australasian College of Physicians’ peer-reviewed journal The Internal Medicine Journal.
Associate Professor Tom Buckley from the University of Sydney’s Faculty of Medicine and Health explained although regular exercise improves health, he and others have shown previously that strenuous exercise can cause a temporary increase in risk of heart attack and sudden death.
“Although events during sport may be rare, each death is a tragedy and insight into motivations and health behaviours of masters’ players helps plan preventative approaches,” he said.
“It is important for people to recognise and act quickly on symptoms when participating in sports events,” Associate Professor Buckley said.
“Our research is also relevant for other sports besides football, which is the most common masters team sport.”
Professor Geoffrey Tofler, senior author of the paper, and Professor of Preventative Cardiology at Sydney Medical School and cardiologist at Royal North Shore Hospital, says: “Although regular exercise improves health, the temporary increase in cardiac risk during strenuous exercise reinforces that it is important to recognise the warning signs of an impending cardiac event.
“If a cardiac arrest occurs, acting promptly with CPR and defibrillator availability is critical.”
“Our research provides insights for masters football players and other masters players so that they can continue to enjoy the benefits of weekend amateur sport but know when to seek help if required.”
It is important to recognise the warning signs of an impending cardiac event.
Lead author Dr Matthew Francis said the Masters Football and Cardiovascular Risk (MAFACARI) survey collected self-reported, anonymous data via a web-based questionnaire, which sampled 153 amateur masters footballers from Sydney.
Participants were of average age 49.3 ± 7.5 years, mainly male (92 percent), and from A -grade competition, B- or lower-grade competition and social games. Competitive drive and intensity of emotions while playing was greatest in the competition players.
Dr Francis said that almost three quarters (73.3 percent) had played football for at least five years since 35 years of age, and participants exercised or played sport an average of 3.6 days per week.
The most popular reasons for playing football were social interaction and enjoyment (93.5 percent), health and exercise (89.5 percent) and love of football (79.7 per cent).
Co-author Mr Alexander Tofler, a student at the Susan Wakil School of Nursing and Midwifery, said players were invited to participate through researcher attendance at team sessions, or telephone and email communication with team and area coordinators who distributed study information.
Because the level of education was high in survey participants (75 percent had university degrees), the findings may be a best-case scenario, assuming those with a lower educational level may have less awareness about cardiac issues.
The full paper is available at: onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/imj.15660
To find out more about heart-attack causes, warning signs and what to do, people are encouraged to visit the Heart Foundation resource page.
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