Important sporting events can trigger heart attacks in men

December 21, 2000

Cardiovascular mortality in Dutch men during 1996 European football championship: longitudinal population study

Men are more likely to suffer a heart attack or stroke on the day of important sporting events, probably because of increased stress, claim researchers from The Netherlands in this week's Christmas issue of the BMJ.

Witte and colleagues compared the number of deaths on 22 June 1996 (the day the Dutch football team was knocked out of the European football championship) with the number of deaths five days before and after the match and in the same period in 1995 and 1997. In men, deaths from heart attack or stroke significantly increased on the day of the football match, compared with the five days on either side. In total, about 14 additional deaths occurred - an increase of around 50%. No corresponding increase in deaths occurred in women.

Factors such as increased mental and emotional stress, high alcohol intake, overeating and excessive smoking are thought to trigger cardiovascular deaths, explain the authors. A critical football match - which combines several of these factors at one point in time - may provoke a sufficient level of stress to trigger acute heart attack or stroke, they say.

Contact: Diederick E Grobbee, Professor of Clinical Epidemiology, University Medical Centre, Utrecht, The Netherlands


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