Advertisement

Can watching sports increase my risk of heart attack?

Anthony L. Komaroff, MD
Internal Medicine
Watching sports can stress the heart. But that doesn't mean you need to stop. Several studies suggest that watching exciting sports events can worsen heart problems, at least temporarily. A study from China presented at the most recent American Heart Association meeting showed that men who had suffered heart attacks were more likely to show signs of reduced blood flow to the heart (ischemia) and activated blood clotting when they were watching exciting Olympic events instead of other entertainment programs. Spikes in heart attack rates have been seen in soccer fans after World Cup matches or penalty shoot-outs.

Another issue is that people who are having heart problems often wait until the game is over before going to the hospital for evaluation. Physicians who work in emergency departments always expect a surge in visits right after the end of the Super Bowl and other huge sporting events. Some of those folks come in with heart attacks that have caused more damage than they should have because they delayed seeking help right away. It's conceivable that some people don't reach the hospital alive because they delayed calling 911 while awaiting the outcome of the game.

My advice: Go ahead and watch the game, but be sure you take your medications as usual that day. Go easy on the amount of salty food and alcohol you consume. If you have any chest pressure, shortness of breath, or lightheadedness, get to the emergency department without delay. And if you are getting upset because your team is losing, close your eyes, breathe slowly, and say over and over, "Wait till next year. Wait till next year."
Harvard Medical School Heart Disease: A guide to preventing and treating coronary artery disease

More About this Book

Harvard Medical School Heart Disease: A guide to preventing and treating coronary artery disease

Most people who develop heart disease at least 8 in every 10 have one or more major risk factors that are within their power to change. These include lack of exercise, high blood pressure, and...

Continue Learning about Heart Attack

who is most at risk of a heart attack ?
who is most at risk of a heart attack ?
every year over three-quarters of a million americans have a heart attack . That obviously bad news . but the good news is that you do have some contr...
Read More
how punching a clock helps your heart
how punching a clock helps your heart
if you just can not seem to break away when your shift ends , make it a mandate for your heart . the paperwork can wait . your heart ca n't . research...
Read More
how soon after a heart attack can i see a dentist ?
RealAgeRealAge
Most dental procedures should be delayed at least six months after a heart attack. The reason for th...
More Answers
how can i tell the difference between a heart attack and indigestion ?
SCAISCAI
What might seem like indigestion could be a heart attack or a symptom of coronary artery disease, pa...
More Answers

Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.