The Super Bowl and Your Heart

Is being a football fan too much for your heart to handle?

The Super Bowl and Your HeartPhoto: iStock

If you’re a die-hard football fan and your team is in the big game, you may be putting your heart at risk. Heart attacks increase significantly during and immediately after close games, according to researchers at the Heart Institute, Good Samaritan Hospital and Keck School of Medicine at University of Southern California in Los Angeles.

The body responds to intense sporting events as it does to an emergency, speeding up the heart, elevating blood pressure, and spiking stress hormones. This stress can overload the cardiovascular system, triggering heart attack. And when fans are drinking alcohol, smoking, and inhaling fatty food while watching the game, they are even more susceptible.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, fans of the losing team fare the worst. After Los Angeles Rams lost to the Pittsburgh Steelers in 1980, there were dramatic increases in both cardiac deaths and other deaths in both men and women, compared with other years. But when the Los Angeles Raiders beat the Washington Redskins in 1984, there was actually a slight decrease in death rates during the following two weeks.

Football fans aren’t the only ones at risk. Researchers found similar trends in World Cup soccer fans and hockey fans.

To prepare for the big game, researchers recommend fans talk with their doctors about a pre-game regimen of beta-blockers and aspirin-that is for those who have prescriptions. The rest of us can benefit from deep breathing and meditation.

Source: Psychology Today

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