Football Fans Run the Risk of Heart Attack With 'Dangerous' Levels of Stress: Study
An Oxford research showed that passionate fans can have adverse effects from watching their teams play due to the sheer intense levels of physical stress.
Brazil fans after the 7-1 loss to Germany (Photo Credit: Reuters)
The rush of blood, the sense of breathlessness and dizzying euphorics when one's favourite football team scores a last-minute winner. These sensations and feelings are nothing new for a die-hard supporter of the 'beautiful game'. A new study though has found that fans are subjected to risk of heart attacks due to the sheer intense levels of physical stress.
The saliva of Brazilian fans were tested for an Oxford study, during their 'historic' 7-1 loss to Germany in the 2014 World Cup, which showed that cortisol hormone levels 'went through the roof'.
University of Oxford researchers monitored the cortisol levels in 40 fans from time-frames - before, during and after - three matches at their home World Cup.
High cortisol can cause increased blood pressure and put a strain on the heart. The research though did not found any difference in stress levels between men and women.
"Fans who are strongly fused with their team - that is, have a strong sense of being 'one' with their team - experience the greatest physiological stress response when watching a match," said Dr. Martha Newson, a researcher at the Centre for the Study of Social Cohesion, at Oxford.
"Fans who are more casual supporters also experience stress but not so extremely."
Prolonged high levels of cortisol can 'constrict blood vessels', 'raise blood pressure' and 'damage an already weakened heart'.
Earlier research has also shown there have been more instances of heart attacks among fans on 'important' match days.
According to the research, the most stressful was the semi-final.
"It was a harrowing match - so many people stormed out sobbing," Dr. Newson told BBC News.
"Clubs may be able to offer heart screenings or other health measures to highly committed fans who are at the greatest risk of experiencing increased stress during the game," she added.
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