Today is the big game, and as a die-hard Vikings fan, I find myself unable to decide whether I can stand to root for the Packers. But there is one bright side to not having my favorite team in the big game…at least I don’t have to worry about a heart attack.
Via New Scientist:
When avid sports fans sit down to watch a game on TV, they are not really on the couch: they are stepping up to the plate, sprinting down the field, gliding over the ice – they are right there, shoulder pad to shoulder pad with their favourite players.
For some die-hard fans, watching a game is apparently such an immersive experience that they, well, die of the excitement. Exhilarating matches can really get your heart going; unfortunately, they can also permanently silence its beating.
Robert Kloner, a cardiologist at the University of Southern California, analysed cardiac deaths in Los Angeles county during two Super Bowls: an intense 1980 match in which the much-loved Los Angeles Rams lost to the Pittsburgh Steelers at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California and a more predictable 1984 game in which the Los Angeles Raiders gained an early lead and defeated the Washington Redskins in Tampa, Florida.
Kloner and his colleagues found that deaths due to heart failure in Los Angeles rose during the 1980 Super Bowl for both men and women – and especially for people over 65. Conversely, cardiac deaths decreased during the 1984 Super Bowl. The 1980 loss, Kloner reasons, literally broke the hearts of some fans in LA, especially if they had underlying heart conditions. But 1984′s unsurprising victory hardly tugged anyone’s heartstrings.
“There are many well-known chronic risk factors for cardiac deaths – smoking, obesity, diabetes,” Kloner explains, “but there is also evidence for acute risk factors that trigger a cardiac event.”
And here I thought it was just the pizza that was going to kill me.