Can the Super Bowl cause a heart attack?
Athletes often are known to leave their “blood, sweat and tears” on the field, but how heartbreaking can a loss be for a fan during a Super Bowl game?
“Some people invest themselves so much in the game and the emotion of winning vs. losing that they can actually cause extreme stress which in turn puts pressure on the heart,” says Dr. Allan Beall, a cardiologist at Advocate Heart Institute at Illinois Masonic Medical Center in Chicago. “Intense emotions during a game will trigger higher adrenaline and more hormone production in the body that will in turn increase heart rate and blood pressure. In people with known heart disease like history of heart attacks, strokes or heart artery blockages, this can increase the risk of a heart attack.”
A study in 2011 found a link between heart attacks and fans with a team that lost the Super Bowl. The study suggest that fans may not necessarily need to monitor their heart rate during the game, but if they have history of heart disease, they may consider walking away if they start to get too frustrated or upset while watching the high adrenaline sport on TV. It is also important to remember that the outcome of the game shouldn’t impact you in a significant way.
“One additional factor is that many of us are eating food that isn’t exactly healthy during the game,” says Dr. Beall. “The salty chips or greasy snacks aren’t the immediate cause of a new heart attack, but they are definitely not good for your heart long-term.”
Dr. Beall says there is no reason to not watch the game or to not have fun while doing so, but to just be cautious on how much stress you put on your body, especially if you have a history of heart disease.
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