The researchers found that during six of the seven German games, there was an increase in the number of reported cardiovascular events. That effect was even more pronounced when the Germans were involved in a dramatic match where the winning goal was scored during the last minute.
On days when the German team was playing, the proportion of cardiac patients who were male jumped to an average of 71.5 percent, while men only accounted for 56.7 percent of cardiac care during the no-play period.
Overall, the incidence of cardiac emergencies in men increased 3.26 times the average of the control period when the German team was playing. For women, the increase was 1.82 times higher than the control period.
"It appears you have to be vested in some way in the outcome," explained Siegel. "I would definitely expect there to be an increase in heart attacks in New York and New England this weekend if it's a close game."
David added that sports fans can create "the perfect storm for heart attacks" by leading a sedentary lifestyle, eating junk food, smoking, drinking excessive alcohol, and getting stressed out by the game.
He said that if you've got known risk factors for heart disease and you know you get worked up when viewing sports, but you just can't tear yourself away from the games, you should talk with your doctor about whether a temporary treatment to keep your blood vessels relaxed would be helpful.
"There are people who have lots of heart irregularities when they have to do public speaking, and we treat them with medications called beta blockers. Maybe we should treat stressed-out sports fans with beta blockers also," he suggested.
Both David and Siegel added that it's not only the stress of sporting events that can trigger cardiac problems.
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