Avid sports fans face heart risk

Whether it's Trojans vs. Bruins or the Lakers charging down the court, Ira Meiselman loves his teams especially from his hometown.

"My favorite team without a doubt is the New York Yankees," said Meiselman.

He gets angry when his team loses, but feels euphoria when they win.

"I remember the whole upper deck was shaking. I was getting excited and I could feel my blood boiling," said Meiselman.

In the first study of its kind, the director of heart research at Good Samaritan Hospital wanted to investigate specific events that trigger heart attacks namely major sporting events.

So Dr. Robert Kloner looked at cardiac deaths surrounding two big Super Bowls. The first when the 1980 L.A. Rams' heart wrenching loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers. In the weeks surrounding that event, total L.A. County deaths went up 17-percent.

"And an increase in cardiovascular death by about 22 percent was associated with that losing Super Bowl," said Dr. Kloner.

Four years later, when L.A. Raiders made it to the Super Bowl against the Washington Redskins, a completely different story.

"L.A. won and there was actually a significant decrease in total deaths surrounding the two weeks of that game," said Dr. Kloner.

Dr. Kloner suspects endorphins released during victory may have a protective effect whereas the emotional stress related to losing triggers stress hormones. The moral of the study, avid sports fans need to keep cardiac risk factors in check.

Fans like Ira say while it's hard not to get emotionally involved when your team is playing, He's going to do his best to relax.

One more important point, Dr. Kloner and his colleagues also looked at cardiac deaths in the years L.A. didn't have a professional football team and found a slight decrease in total deaths in the two weeks surrounding the Super Bowl.



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