Super Risks on Super Bowl Sunday

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Couch potatoes beware, Super Bowl Sunday may put you at risk for cardiovascular events. A German study conducted during the FIFA World Cup in 2006 and published in the New England Journal of Medicine (V 358:475-483, January 31, 2008, Number 5) found a relationship between emotional stress and the incidence of cardiovascular events.4279 patients with cardiovascular events occurring during the World Cup matches were assessed. The incidence rate during game days was 2.66 that during the control periods. The rate for men was 3.26 that of the control period and  1.82 for women. For individuals with known coronary heart disease the rate soared to  47.0% as compared to 29.1% during the control period. The highest incidence was observed during the first two hours at the beginning of each match.

The study revealed that watching a stressful match doubled the risk of a cardiovascular event and suggested that individuals with known coronary heart disease take measures to reduce stress associated with watching the match. While we normally don't equate the Super Bowl with a heart attack, this study identifies that there is a clear risk which is further increased for individuals with a history of heart disease. Our culture puts a lot of attention of the Super Bowl and the event has become an institution marked by parties, overindulgence in food and drink and stress about who will win or lose. So, sports fans be careful on Sunday. Even those who watch from the couch are at risk.

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