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Dora R. Rice, Marc Cook, FACSM, Heather Colleran, Lauren San Diego, Troy M. Purdom. North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University, Greensboro, NC.

BACKGROUND: Iron plays a role in cardiovascular (CVD) function and iron deficiency (ID) can lead to increased cardiac activity. The purpose of this study is to investigate the relationship between ID and high blood pressure (HBP) in African American (AA) Division I athletes. METHODS: 23 athletes were sampled (Height 197.5±12.4cm, mass 79.4±19.6kg, fat percentage 19.0±8.9%). Athletes sat for >5 min before taking BP with HBP defined (>120 - <130mmHg systolic and <80mmHg diastolic). Participants completed a three-day food recall that was reviewed by a dietician. Total energy intake (TEI) and total energy expenditure (TEE) were assessed to evaluate energy balance =(TEI-TEE). Spearman correlation coefficients and standardized mean difference with a 95% confidence interval (CI) used two binary variables: P1 = ID (Yes,No) and P2 = HBP (Yes,No). T-tests and Cohens D evaluated HBP and ID with objective limits of low (0.2-0.4), moderate (0.4-0.6), and high (>0.8). RESULTS: Athletes with HBP were 54% ID despite not being significantly different (p=0.6) and a weak relationship between athletes with HBP and ID (R =-0.30, CI = [-0.63, 0.13]). A moderate relationship between ID and HBP where 0.13% of those who were HTN were also ID. CONCLUSION: ID does not seem to show a direct relationship to HTN in athletes which is known to influence the heart to work harder to move oxygen-rich blood through one’s body increasing cardiovascular disease risk. Oral iron supplements and iron-rich foods along with educating athletes and sports staff about ID while increasing nutritional awareness may reduce the negative effects of having an unbalanced diet and improve an athlete’s performance.

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