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Cardiac Death Chances Increase Among Fans Of Losing Team

January 31, 2011

Cardiac deaths increase, especially among women, after a city’s home team lost in the biggest American football game, the famed Super Bowl, according to a study published Monday in the journal Clinical Cardiology.

Researchers examined residents of Los Angeles where the home team lost to the Pittsburgh Steelers in 1980 and won against the Washington Redskins in 1984. Looking at how the rise in deaths after the loss related to age and sex and race, the study found a 27 percent increase in circulatory deaths among women.

In men, there was a 15 percent increase in such deaths associated with the loss. “The Super Bowl may elicit an emotional response that is similar in US females and males, or perhaps a male’s reaction to the Super Bowl loss adversely affected the emotional state of a female partner,” the study authors wrote.

“Physicians and patients should be aware that stressful games might elicit an emotional response that could trigger a cardiac event,” said lead study author Robert Kloner of the Heart Institute, Good Samaritan Hospital and Keck School of Medicine at USC in Los Angeles.

“Stress reduction programs or certain medications might be appropriate in individual cases,” said Kloner. Women also fared better than men after the Super Bowl win four years later. “For women, but not men, there was a reduction in all-cause death and circulatory deaths associated with the Super Bowl win,” the study said.

After the loss, more cardiac deaths occurred overall across sex barriers. And among people over 65, there was a 22 percent increase in circulatory deaths, though no statistically significant differences were found among various races.

This year’s Super Bowl takes place February 6 between the Green Bay Packers and Pittsburgh Steelers.

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