Is the Super Bowl a health hazard for diehard football fans?
In a number of studies, big games have been linked to spikes in heart attacks and other cardiovascular events. A study in The New England Journal of Medicine followed thousands of German fans during the 2006 World Cup, finding that cardiac emergencies surged on days the German team played, especially after dramatic games.
Last year, a team of scientist focused on the Super Bowl, looking at residents of Los Angeles in two different years when local teams were in the game. In 1980, the Rams lost to the Pittsburgh Steelers, and in 1984 the Raiders defeated the Washington Redskins. The study, published in The American Journal of Cardiology, found that compared with other years, deaths from heart attacks rose in Los Angeles on the day the Rams lost the Super Bowl and for two weeks afterward. The game, played in California, was highly charged, with the lead changing a half-dozen times.
But in 1984, when the Raiders won handily, overall mortality fell.
Aside from stress, the incautious eating and drinking that mark Super Bowl Sunday may also play a role in cardiovascular trouble. A 2006 study of dialysis patients, for example, found that those who attended Super Bowl parties registered slight increases in weight and other “adverse changes in several nutritional parameters” afterward.
THE BOTTOM LINE: For some fans, the Super Bowl may be stressful for the heart.