HOPE Program

Living Heart Foundation Launches HOPE Program
for Former NFL Players

Comprehensive study and educational program promotes healthy lifestyles and weight management for former professional football players

Washington, D.C. (February 11, 2014) – The Living Heart Foundation, with support from the Professional Athletes Foundation, National Football League Players Association, Pro Player Health Alliance and Covidien (NYSE: COV), will continue working with former players to research heart health through its Living Heart Foundation research screening program. The Living Heart Foundation also offers the new HOPE (Heart, Obesity, Prevention & Education) Program for former National Football League (NFL) players. 

The HOPE Program is a comprehensive obesity research initiative designed to promote healthy lifestyles and weight-management among former professional football players. These former players, when compared to smaller-sized men, are more likely to have cardiovascular problems and other health issues associated with being overweight. The weight management initiative is an extension of the existing Living Heart Foundation programs that are aimed at promoting health services to specific groups that have been traditionally overlooked – including high school, college and professional athletes, as well as underserved populations.

“When a player’s athletic career ends, the level of exercise is reduced dramatically while caloric intake often remains high. This could lead to obesity, along with other serious comorbidities,” said Andre Collins, Executive Director of the Professional Athletes Foundation and NFLPA Director of Former Players. “The HOPE Program provides former players with a team environment that encourages participants to adopt healthier lifestyle choices. Adverse health conditions due to obesity in former NFL players can be corrected with healthy diet, exercise and weight loss.”

The HOPE Program was launched in October 2012 at Temple University Hospital, under the leadership of Gary Foster, PhD, Former Director of the Center for Obesity Research and Education at Temple University School of Medicine, now with Weight Watchers, Inc.

This year, Pro Player Health Alliance joins the Living Heart Foundation team providing additional education around sleep awareness and sleep disorders. The goal of Pro Players Health Alliance is to provide healthy long term solutions for NFL players with sleep disorders.

“More than two thirds of adult Americans are obese or overweight, representing a burden of approximately $160 billion annually to the healthcare system,” noted Arthur J. Roberts, MD, retired cardiac surgeon, former NFL quarterback and Founder of the Living Heart Foundation. “Obesity and its underlying conditions play a significant role in the declining health of former NFL players. The Living Heart Foundation is committed to assessments, education, research and empowering HOPE participants with a mission to improve the early identification of health risks in these former elite athletes and promoting healthier lifestyles among the athletes and the general public.”

“Covidien is dedicated to the wellness and education of patients and strives to enable HOPE participants to achieve optimal, long-term results,” said Michael Tarnoff, MD, Chief Medical Officer, Covidien. “We are committed to clinical research, discoveries and advances that will help patients resolve medical conditions that often accompany obesity. In addition to combating obesity with bariatric surgery, a combination of healthy diet and exercise is also required to achieve long-lasting weight loss success.”

The Living Heart Foundation (LHF) is a nonprofit organization under IRS 501 (c) (3) code. The LHF was initially funded by a grant from the Edison Foundation. Subsequently, Funding sources and donations have been obtained from companies like Covidien, Pfizer, Meridian Health System, Siemens, Professional Athletes Foundation, and from individual sources. The LHF was established by Arthur J. Roberts, MD in April 2001 to combat sudden cardiac death and to provide cardiovascular risk stratification with early preventive intervention for cardiac, pulmonary, and metabolic conditions through on-site screening and integrated follow-up health programs. The LHF has published 10 peer review papers related to CV risk in college students & athletes, as well as former NFL athletes.

The National Football League Players Association (NFLPA) is a non-profit, professional sports union that protects the best interests and welfare of all NFL players. Established in 1956, the NFLPA is governed by a Board of Player Representatives, acting in accordance with the NFLPA Constitution and federal labor laws. The NFLPA’s responsibilities include: Representing all players in matters concerning wages, hours and working conditions and protecting their rights as professional football players; ensuring that the terms of the Collective Bargaining Agreement are met; negotiating and monitoring retirement and insurance benefits; providing other member services and activities; providing assistance to charitable and community organizations; enhancing and defending the image of players and their profession, on and off the field. For more information, visit www.NFLPlayers.com.

Covidien is a leading global healthcare products company that creates innovative medical solutions for better patient outcomes and delivers value through clinical leadership and excellence. Covidien manufactures, distributes and services a diverse range of industry leading product lines in three segments: Medical Devices, Pharmaceuticals and Medical Supplies. With 2012 revenue of $11.9 billion, Covidien has 43,000 employees worldwide in 70 countries, and its products are sold in over 140 countries. Please visit www.covidien.com to learn more about our business.

Pro Player Health Alliance (PPHA) is an organization dedicated to helping former NFL players, through providing testing and treatment options for those who suffer from sleep apnea. Since launching in April 2012, over 160 players have been treated through PPHA's "Tackle Sleep Apnea" campaign. Also, the PPHA is dedicated to integrating education and raising sleep apnea awareness, in a fun and memorable way. In addition to the campaign, PPHA is dedicated to testing and getting people who suffer from sleep apnea treated.


Living Heart Foundation
Scott Perryman