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For Many, Super Bowl is Serious as a Heart Attack

Pittsburgh Steelers Fans

A study says fans cheering for the losing team are more likely to suffer heart attacks after Sunday's Super Bowl. Relieving emotional stress before, during and after the big game can be a matter of life and death.

Fans have a much higher chance of suffering a fatality from Sunday’s Super Bowl (FOX, 6:30PM Eastern) then any of the players on the field, especially the ones cheering for the losing team, according to a recent study.

Clinical Cardiology published a study this month of death records for Los Angeles County for the two weeks following the 1980 and 1984 Super Bowls. Los Angeles teams played in both.

In 1980, the Pittsburgh Steelers came from behind to beat the Los Angeles Rams 31-19 at the Rose Bowl to win the fourth Super Bowl in their franchise’s history.

Four years later, the Los Angeles Raiders clobbered the Washington Redskins in Tampa 38-9 to win Super Bowl XVIII.

Researchers found a link between the Steelers fourth-quarter comeback win against the Rams in 1980 and a significant increase in heart attacks. Heart-related deaths shot up 15% among men and 27% among women in the subsequent two weeks, compared to the same period in 1981 through 1983.

USC Professor Robert Kloner, MD, said, “Fans develop an emotional connection to their team…and when their team loses, that’s an emotional stress. There’s a brain-heart connection, and it is important for people to be aware of that.”

Cleveland Clinic cardiologist David Frid, MD, agreed that emotional triggers can set off heart attacks, although he’s not convinced of the connection to rooting for the losing team. “Was it due to the fact that the Rams lost? Or was it the emotional roller coaster of the game itself?” Dr. Frid questioned.

Relationship skills experts say it’s important to relieve emotional stress before, during, and after any event that could potentially trigger a heart attack.

PAIRS Foundation’s Seth Eisenberg, a leader in marriage education and relationship skills training, said taking 10-15 minutes to “empty your emotional jug” can help fans improve their health and strengthen family connections.

“Confiding what you’re mad, sad, scared and glad about in that order with a trusted friend or family member who can just listen without interrupting to tell you what to feel or give advice about what to do helps many people relieve stress,” Eisenberg said.

When it comes to protecting your health during the Super Bowl, making time to listen to loved ones before, during or after an emotional event can be more then just a conversation that matters. If the study is accurate, it can also make the difference between life and death.

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