Our heart flutters and goes out for people, places, events and things that we are in love with. Cricket is an anthem for many of us in India and we don’t mind giving our heart and soul to cheer our Men in Blue towards victory. College goers bunk classes, companies set up big-screen viewing of matches sometimes and most retired men love nothing better than an interesting test/one-day match between India and any other country in this world. Seeing the stadiums filled with colorful tri-color flags, face paintings done representing our beloved sports heroes and pluck cards and banners displaying our thoughts and passion for the sport bring about energy and a positive aura to all of us out there.
Worldwide too, every country has a special sport that makes people go crazy watching it. One cannot miss out the FIFA World Cup, French Open, Wimbledon, Rugby World Cup and of course, ICC Cricket World Cup. The tension builds up slowly through the qualifying rounds and peaks through the quarter finals and semis- with the finals setting the grounds for ultimate tension.
Don’t Brood Over a Lost Game!
It has been known since a long time by scientists that major sporting events induce unhealthy behavioral indulgence in fans. All the tins/bottles of soft drinks, alcohol, potato crisps, cheese dips, burgers and mithais are more than enough reasons for a heart problem in these die-hard fans. It isn’t new for us to sit with bowls of cheesy popcorns in front of our HD television screens or lie down all day in our bed watching our favorite sporting team slashing their way through the football match. These are paired with bed-fed foods and beverages by our loving mommies, dadis and nanis.
If such disoriented lifestyles and food habits aren’t enough reasons for a heart attack, studies now show that sporting events such as the World Soccer Cup, FIFA and Rugby World Cup can cause arrhythmias in certain die-hard fans and rarely, heart attacks too (according to the American Heart Association).
Basically, the causes for a heart attack include increased BP levels, cholesterol, obesity and diabetes but the underlying causes for these problems include an inactive lifestyle, unhealthy food habits and above all, stress. Stress can be the sole reason for several diseases erupting out of our body which have no specific root cause. The same rule becomes applicable in the case of sports too. There have been several instances during which spectators inside the stadium have tweeted about getting warning signs of increased heart rates through their smartwatches during matches. According to scientists, this kind of spike occurs when the individual connects with the match emotionally. This can cause emotional stress which in turn acts as a primary factor for triggering cardiovascular diseases. This is specifically true when the match is in between core rival countries or when the competing teams are equally efficient and stand equal chances of winning the trophy. During such times, adrenaline levels peak, our hearts flutter rapidly and we are glued to the match in a state as though we ourselves are the players. Hormones called catecholamines (just like adrenaline) are released, heart rate and blood pressure spike up, all of which elevate oxygen requirements and lead to heart problems.
A small study published in the Canadian Journal of Cardiology found an increase in individuals’ pulse rate by as much as 75% while watching a hockey game on television and by 110% when watching it live. Another valuable example is the 1996 European championship where the Dutch football team was eliminated due to a penalty shootout against France. On this day, there was a 50% increase in deaths due to heart attack and stroke in Dutch men.
After Second Thoughts
Scientists quote various reasons for such increased risk of heart attacks during sporting events:
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Dietitian & Nutritionist Dr. Nafeesa Imteyaz.