Watching World Cup Can Increase Risk of Heart Attack

All you World Cup soccer fans (and those who love them) take note: getting heavily involved following the action on the field can lead to heart attack. A study conducted during the last World Cup competition found that rates for heart attacks doubled during the competition.

According to Dr. Gal Dubnov, chief of sports medicine at Sheba Medical Center, the problem stems from a combination of lack of physical activity and eating more snack foods during the tournament. Getting stressed out because your team isn’t doing well or celebrating because it is may be bad for your heart.

The results of a survey published in the New England Journal of Medicine shared details about the number of heart attacks experienced by World Cup viewers in Germany in 2006. During the tournament when the German national team was on the field, heart attack rates more than tripled for men. Female soccer fans were 1.8 times more likely to have cardiac issues. Most of the heart attacks noted in the study took place within two hours of the game.

Interestingly enough, only about half of the people who had a heart attack after watching soccer had a history of heart disease.

What conclusions can we draw from these results? If you have a history of heart issues, take some time to relax and do make a point of eating a heart-healthy diet and getting some exercise while the tournament is going on. If your heart condition is severe, you may need to refrain from watching the games. In any case, there will be enough people coaching from their living rooms that you should try to just watch the action unfold without getting too involved in it. (The players and coaches on the field can’t hear you, anyway.)