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Real Estate Bisnow
August 13, 2008



This last weekend, more than 70 retired NFL players teamed through the mother of all healthcare screenings at GW Medical Center. Why? About five times a year, former Cleveland Browns and Miami Dolphins quarterback, now heart surgeon, Archie Roberts takes his traveling CV Health Screening show on the road. The big question: Does size matter when it comes to developing cardiovascular disease and other health problems?


Archie, right, with former Redskin Dexter Manley, and New York Giants associate team doctor Allan Levy. Archie says he used to think he was invincible, until a sudden stroke grabbed his attention. After that, he founded the non-profit Living Heart Foundation in 2001, and switched from active surgeon to prevention advocate. LHF screenings have both a service and research angle. 


LHF educates retired players about their health and guides them toward making serious lifestyle changes. After completing tests at GW (here LHF staff member Jack Palmero takes former Canadian center Freddie Ryans' blood pressure), the treatment phase passes to the players and their personal doctors. LHF tracks follow up. While studies suggest that pro-football players face various greater health risks, LHF research shows the risk for cardiovascular disease in the retired player group is not much different from the general population. When matched for size, race, and age, to regular people, the risk for retired players is nearly the same. "I wouldn't have guessed that five years ago," Archie says.


Danny Murry measures former Broncos "Orange Crush" nosetackle Rubin Carter. Archie says football players can sack health problems with early detection and treatment. "We see them as champions, but the health benefits of being in shape during their youth fades. Just like everyone else," he says.

Jacqueline M. Duda is a health journalist and a Pittsburgh area native. With children born in Maryland, her house is divided during football season - 3 to 2, Steelers v. Redskins fans. It can get ugly.

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