The bump was more pronounced among older Los Angeles County residents than younger ones. Overall, older fans experienced a 22 percent bump in circulatory deaths, the investigators found.
By contrast, the 1984 Los Angeles Raiders' win was linked to a drop in cardiac-related death rates in both older people and female fans in the area.
For his part, Dr. Shukri David, chief of cardiology at Providence Hospital in Southfield, Mich., said he's a fan of the findings.
"It doesn't surprise me at all," he said. "For some people the Super Bowl can be like any other stressful situation in life. And couple that with the fact that many viewers are sedentary and have multiple risk factors for coronary artery disease, and then all of a sudden there is this excitement, where there is a surge of our fight-or-flight hormones. And these hormones can cause arteries to constrict at a time when the patients actually need additional blood flow because of their excitement," David explained.
"Add to all that that people are eating burgers and junk food and drinking, and you have a perfect storm for a heart attack," he noted. "And, of course, there are other circumstances that can be related to this risk, such as having a bet on a game where a disappointing outcome could certainly create stress that could lead to spasm to an artery and then a heart attack."
David's advice? "I would say temper the emotions. And be aware of the fact that this is just a game. Don't get overly excited about something that most of us will not remember next year."
And, he added, "have medications available on hand."
For more on risk factors linked to heart disease, visit the American Heart Association.
-- Alan Mozes
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