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June 7, 1958


Author Affiliations

Los Angeles; Boston

JAMA. 1958;167(6):711-714. doi:10.1001/jama.1958.02990230037007

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The health records of a group of 355 men who had distinguished themselves at football in the years 1901 to 1930 inclusive were studied for factors that might predispose a man to coronary heart disease. The cause of death was ascertained in 87 cases and was found to be coronary heart disease in 25. Comparisons were made between former athletes still living without coronary heart disease and former athletes, living or dead, with coronary heart disease, with respect to data that had been recorded during health examinations while they were in college and noted in the years since their graduation. The coronary and noncoronary groups did not differ significantly with respect to body build as recorded in college, but the family histories of the coronary group showed a higher incidence of unfavorable family health and the coronary group gained more weight after leaving college. Little difference was found in this study between heavy smokers and abstainers and between heavy drinkers and abstainers, but it is noted that the groups were small and did not manifest any wide diversity in ways of life. The most interesting finding concerned the amount of exercise taken habitually during the lifetime of these men. Those in the coronary group engaged in less vigorous exercise than did the others, and no individual in this study who maintained a heavy exercise program happened to develop coronary heart disease.