Watching the Super Bowl on Sunday may cause your heart more stress than it can handle, according to new research published earlier this week in the New England Journal of Medicine.

The researchers looked at cardiac, or heart, emergencies and heart attacks in Munich, Germany when Germany won the 2006 World Cup tournament. “The more important the game, the greater the risk,” said Dr. Ute Wilbert-Lampen, one of the study’s lead authors. “There is also a direct correlation between the tension in the game and the amount of stress one feels — and thus the strain on the heart.”

The researchers looked at 4,279 heart cases that occurred in the greater Munich area during World Cup games that Germany was playing in. They then compared that period to similar periods of time in 2003 and 2005.

The findings? Men’s risk of having heart problems while watching their team play was over 3 times higher than normal. Women’s risk of heart troubles was nearly 2 times higher. Those with a history of heart trouble were even more at risk.

The researchers found a direct correlation to an increase in emergency room visits during more stressful games, and those which involved the German team, and no rise in visits when the Germans were not playing or the game was not a stressful one.

And, as doctors have long known, the longer you wait to treat a heart attack or a heart emergency, the more likely there is for a negative outcome.

So what’s a football fan to do on Sunday?

Well, if you have a prior history of heart problems, you are especially at risk for these incidents. Find ways to reduce your stress during the game and try to keep things in perspective. Cut back or lay off the fatty foods, chips, and drinking large quantities of alcohol while watching the big game.

And if you feel something isn’t right with your heart, take it seriously — turn of the TV and call 911.

Oh, and enjoy the game! :) Go Pats!!



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    Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 1 Feb 2008
    Published on All rights reserved.

APA Reference
Grohol, J. (2008). Watching the Super Bowl May Be Hazardous to Your Health. Psych Central. Retrieved on January 25, 2015, from


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