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Former Footballers Report Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy Symptoms

Although a postmortem diagnosis, clinician-diagnosed CTE reported by 2.8 percent of American football players

MONDAY, April 27, 2020 (HealthDay News) — A number of former American-style football (ASF) players report clinician-diagnosed chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), and they have significantly more comorbidities and cognitive impairment symptoms, according to a study published online April 13 in the Annals of Neurology.

Rachel Grashow, Ph.D., from Harvard Medical School in Boston, and colleagues surveyed 3,913 former ASF players aged 24 to 89 years to establish premortem diagnostic criteria for CTE.

The researchers found that 2.8 percent of players self-reported clinician-diagnosed CTE, despite it being a postmortem diagnosis. The percentage of players reporting a CTE diagnosis was 2.3 percent in participants younger than 60 years of age versus 3.7 percent in those aged 60 years or older. Comorbidities, including sleep apnea, hypercholesterolemia, obesity, indicators of past or current depression, hypertension, prescription pain medication use, heart conditions, and low testosterone were significantly more common in participants self-reporting CTE versus non-CTE respondents. Older and younger participants had different patterns of reporting for obesity, hypertension, heart conditions, or hypercholesterolemia. Participants self-reporting CTE had significantly higher cognitive impairment symptoms.

“Our findings emphasize the importance of careful clinical assessment of comorbidities and other causes of cognitive decline in former athletes with neurocognitive symptomatology before assuming that CTE is the responsible etiology,” the authors write.

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