Super Bowl losses can increase cardiac death

January 31, 2011

A new study published in the journal Clinical Cardiology reveals that a Super Bowl loss for a home team was associated with increased death rates in both men and women and in older individuals.

Sports fans may be emotionally involved in watching their favorite teams. When the team loses, it can cause some degree of emotional stress.

Led by Robert A. Kloner, MD, PhD, of the Heart Institute, Good Samarian Hospital and Keck School of Medicine at USC in Los Angeles, researchers assessed how often this may translate to increases in . They ran regression models for for cardiac causes for the 1980 Los Angeles loss and for the 1984 Los Angeles Super Bowl win.

Results show that the Los Angeles Super Bowl loss of 1980 increased total and cardiac deaths in both men and women and triggered more death in older than younger patients. In contrast, there was a trend for a Super Bowl win to reduce death more frequently in older people and in women.

Specifically, in men there was a 15 percent increase in all circulatory deaths associated with the Super Bowl loss; in women there was a 27 percent increase in all circulatory deaths associated with the loss. Thus, unlike previous reports from some soccer games, the findings were not confined mainly to male fans, but also were seen in women. In older patients, there was a 22 percent increase in circulatory deaths associated with the Super Bowl loss.

"Physicians and patients should be aware that stressful games might elicit an that could trigger a cardiac event," Kloner notes. "Stress reduction programs or certain medications might be appropriate in individual cases."

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