Study finds NFL players more likely to have enlarged aorta

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Study finds NFL players more likely to have enlarged aorta: Ali Gorman reports during Action News at 5pm on November 9, 2017. (WPVI)

A new finding shows how intense exercise may affect an athlete's body.

Research has shown football players to have larger hearts and thicker heart muscles due to intense exercise.

Now doctors have a new, worrisome discovery.

Researchers now say the aorta in football players may also be larger. That's the main artery that carries blood from the heart to the rest of the body.

Doctors at the Cleveland Clinic studied about 200 retired NFL players. They found much larger aortas than compared to non-athletes.

They also found linemen had larger aortas than other position players. Doctors say it may be due to weight lifting.

Typically an enlarged aorta puts someone at risk for a life-threatening tear, but more research is needed to know if the same is true for other, elite athletes.

"Until we know more about what this means, we should be cautious and continue to monitor these folks more closely than we would normally," said Dr. Dermot Phelan from the Cleveland Clinic.

Also what's interesting is that the players had lower levels of high blood pressure, cholesterol, and smoking, which are all risk factors for an enlarged aorta.

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