Sports team losses can increase cardiac death

A new study published in the journal Clinical Cardiology reveals that a sports team loss for a home team was associated with increased death rates in both men and women, and in older individuals.

Sports fans may be emotionally involved in watching their favourite teams. When the team loses, it can cause some degree of emotional stress.

Led by Robert A. Kloner, MD, PhD, of the Heart Institute, Good Samaritan Hospital and Keck School of Medicine at USC in Los Angeles, researchers assessed how often this emotional stress may translate to increases in cardiac death.

They ran regression models for mortality rates for cardiac causes for the 1980 Los Angeles Super Bowl loss and for the 1984 Los Angeles Super Bowl win.

Sports fans and heart attacks

Results show that the Los Angeles Super Bowl loss of 1980 increased total and cardiac deaths in both men and women, and triggered more death in older than younger patients. In contrast, there was a trend for a Super Bowl win to reduce death more frequently in older people and in women.

Specifically, in men there was a 15% increase in all circulatory deaths associated with the Super Bowl loss; in women there was a 27% increase in all circulatory deaths associated with the loss. Thus, unlike previous reports from some soccer games, the findings were not confined mainly to male fans, but also were seen in women. In older patients, there was a 22% increase in circulatory deaths associated with the Super Bowl loss.

"Physicians and patients should be aware that stressful games might elicit an emotional response that could trigger a cardiac event," Kloner notes. "Stress reduction programs or certain medications might be appropriate in individual cases." (EurekAlert/ January 2011)

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