Sporting Events May Hurt Fans' Hearts
Watching Stressful World Cup Soccer Matches May Raise Heart Attack Risk, Study Shows
Jan. 30, 2008 -- Sports fans may be betting on more than their team while
watching the big game. They could be putting their hearts on the line, too, a
study of German soccer fans shows.
Researchers found that the soccer fans more than doubled their risk of
having a heart
attack, experiencing serious chest pains, or developing an irregular
heartbeat known as an arrhythmia while watching their national team play
during the 2006 FIFA World Cup, which was played in Germany that year. The
Italian national team won the tournament. Germany finished third.
The study, which included more than 4,000 people admitted to the hospital
for heart problems during the monthlong soccer tournament, showed that the rate
of cardiac emergencies was 2.66 times greater on the days the German team
played than when the team wasn't playing. Male fans had a higher risk of going
to the hospital for heart problems than female fans. Those previously diagnosed
with heart disease had the highest risk.
The purpose of the study, which appears in The New England Journal of
Medicine, was to examine the relationship between emotional stress and heart attacks. Ute
Wilbert-Lampen, MD, of University Hospital Grosshadern in Munich, and David
Leistner, MD, of Munich's Ludwig Maximilians University, co-authored the
"We hypothesized that in a country such as Germany -- where soccer is
particularly popular -- World Cup matches involving the national team might be
a trigger strong enough to cause an increase in the incidence of cardiac
emergencies," the researchers write.
Watching Sports: Bad for Your Health?
This isn't the first study to show that watching a sporting event may
trigger heart attacks, strokes, or other problems, but fans may face other
potential risks on game day as well.
Other studies have shown that driving-related deaths increase on Super Bowl