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Penalty Shoot-Outs Trigger Heart Attacks

Hospital Admissions Increased From Intensity of 1998 World Cup Soccer Match
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Dec. 19, 2002 -- The emotional intensity of some World Cup soccer matches can trigger an increase in heart attacks, according to new research.

In fact, when Argentina beat England in a penalty shoot-out during the 1998 World Cup, hospital admissions from people having heart attacks increased.

Though heart attacks can be triggered by stressful events such as earthquakes and military conflicts, the researchers thought it unlikely that disasters could be compared to major soccer tournaments. Yet several prior studies show instances of increased deaths from heart attacks after emotionally charged soccer games.

The data taken from hospital records during England's 1998 World Cup matches showed no increase in hospital admissions for heart attacks, strokes, deliberate injury, or road traffic injuries on and near days when England won. However, within the two days following the loss on a penalty shoot-out with Argentina, there was a 25% increase in hospital admissions for heart attacks in England.

Men also had a higher rate of admission than women.

The study is published in the Dec. 21 issue of the British Medical Journal.

Study author Douglas Carroll, PhD, from the School of Sport and Exercise Sciences at University of Birmingham in England, also found that one year later, supporters of England's team showed increases in blood pressure and heart rate when rewatching a video of the same game.

The authors suggest that the emotional impact of the game could have triggered the heart attacks. They say that strategies need be considered to prevent this type of stress, especially in people at high risk for a heart attack.

SOURCE: British Medical Journal, Dec. 21, 2002. -->

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