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Study Examines Super Bowls & Heart Attacks

By Dr. Maria Simbra
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(Photo by Drew Moniot/KDKA)

(Photo by Drew Moniot/KDKA)

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PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Could a football game be bad for your heart?

A new study can’t prove cause and effect, but raises some interesting patterns. With the Super Bowl coming up, Steelers fans should take notice.

The hearts of Steelers fans are on winning the Super Bowl and for good reason.

A study in the journal Clinical Cardiology says heart attack deaths are higher when the home team loses.

It’s something this cardiologist has seen in lieu of the Super Bowl.

“I was treating a patient who had come in with an acute coronary syndrome who was intensely involved in the routing for the outcome for his team,” says Dr. John Schindler, a cardiologist at UPMC.

The study is based on data from Los Angeles after the 1980 loss to the Steelers and then the 1984 win against the Washington Redskins.

Heart-related deaths are 22 percent higher for people over 65 on Super Bowl loss days compared to non-Super Bowl days and 27 percent higher for women. On Super Bowl win days, there’s a lower number of heart-related deaths in those over 65 and among all women.

“People tend to be a little more lax with respect to their adherence to dietary measures, they tend to potentially engage in other behaviors which are not necessarily healthy from a cardiovascular standpoint,” Dr. Schindler surmises.

Not such a far-fetched scenario, if you ask this man, who had a cardiac event at this bar after watching a Jerome Bettis fumble in 2006.

“That was such a climactic moment, I just couldn’t handle it. And I felt a little thump, thump, thump, and I thought, ‘What is that?’ And that’s all I remember, and I just slid to the floor,” says Terry O’Neill.

“Earlier in the game they were carrying on, yelling and screaming. Somebody had knocked him over early in the game, and I thought they were just horsing around again, but not this time. He was down and out,” says Dave Grady, a fireman from Carrick.

“You really need to avoid an emotional investment in the game,” cautions Dr. Schindler. “Watch the game with friends, take it easy, don’t sit in your basement, isolate yourself and scream at the television.”

Earlier studies have looked at World Cup soccer games, earthquakes and other emotionally charged events. But those focused on men. This is the first showing women being especially affected. Something to take note of around here since a sports marketing survey says Allegheny County has the highest percentage of female NFL fans in the country.

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