Many of us get quite worked up during the big game, especially if your favorite team is trailing late in the fourth quarter of the Super Bowl, but take care to relax a bit says a new study has that suggests that the emotional stress fans feel after a loss may trigger fatal heart attacks. Stress generates the “fight-or-flight” response, which causes sharp upticks in heart rate and blood pressure that can strain the heart.

Take rabid fans in Los Angeles for example (when they actually had a team in their city way back when) in 1980. The Pittsburgh Steelers came back to beat the underdog L.A. Rams in a last quarter push, heart-related deaths shot up 15% among men and 27% among women in the subsequent two weeks, compared with the same period in 1981 through 1983. There was also a significant increase in deaths among people ages 65 and older, the study found.

On the flip side, in 1984, Los Angeles Raiders handily beat the Washington Redskins, and unlike four years earlier, the cardiac death rate didn’t increase after the game. In fact, it slightly dipped in women and the elderly.

Robert A. Kloner, M.D., a professor of cardiology at the University of Southern California’s Keck School of Medicine, in Los Angeles said in Clinical Cardiology this week:

“Fans develop an emotional connection to their team…and when their team loses, that’s an emotional stress. There’s a brain-heart connection, and it is important for people to be aware of that. It may be the same emotional response in women as it is for men. Women root for their teams too. Another possibility is that perhaps a mate’s reaction adversely affects the female.”

However, it is important to note that Kloner looked only at death-certificate data, not individuals, and they can’t be sure that the people who succumbed to heart attacks following the 1980 game were Rams fans, or even watched the game.

A cardiologist at the Cleveland Clinic, David Frid, M.D. comments on the 1980 Rams game which in addition was played in Pasadena, basically making the Rams a true home team:

“Was it due to the fact that the Rams lost? Or was it the emotional roller coaster of the game itself? Does it have to do with the excitement of the event?”

The extent of high cholesterol foods consumed on Super Sunday’s may also be a factor. One of the cruelest ironies of life is the fact that the things that taste the best are often the worst for our health. During the Super Bowl in particular, fans want to throw all of the new-fangled eating rules out the window and just consume what they please. Unfortunately, the doctors who study these matters know what they’re talking about and see the risks of high cholesterol from a more comprehensive perspective. It is important to keep an eye on your cholesterol levels because it can have such an important impact on your overall health.

Frid concludes:

“Address what needs to be changed so that you can make it to the end of the game.”

Source: Clinical Cardiology

Written By Sy Kraft, B.A.