Don’t Forget About Your Heart During the World Cup

SYoung Health Guide
  • As I write this blog Mexico and South Africa have just kicked off the first game of the 2010 World Cup. The soccer gods have descended on South Africa and over the next month the world's soccer fans will be completely signed off on anything non-soccer related - I believe that this always ends up being the most unproductive working month worldwide.


    I grew up with soccer around me and became a huge Azzurri (the Italian national team) fan at an early age, and yes, although I am no longer a huge follower of the game now, that changes every four years. Like the majority of the fans out there, my palms get a little wet and my heart beats a little faster when my team is on the field - which coincidentally will happen on Monday when Italy takes the field against Paraguay. But is the stress that I experience bad for my heart?

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    There have been a number of interesting findings in European cardiology studies related to heart problems during the World Cup. A British Medical Journal study discovered that acute myocardial infarction rates on June 30, 1998 - the day England lost to Argentina in a particularly tense World Cup match, decided by a penalty kick shoot-out - were 25 percent higher than average for that day of the year. And another study in the International Journal of Cardiology reported a 77 percent increase in sudden cardiac fatalities among men and a 33 percent increase among women in Switzerland during the 2002 World Cup compared to the same period one year earlier. Europeans certainly take their soccer hysteria to a whole different level.


    Of course, much of this, especially in the British example, could have to do with the types of foods and the amount of liquor consumed during the game which did nothing to help the cardiac state of English fans. Especially for those of us suffering from high cholesterol we should look towards healthier snacks such as dried/fresh fruits, nuts, and dips such as hummus or even guacamole. You may not be able to control the level of stress, but you can certainly control what goes into your mouth. For tips on healthy snacking, check out this article on HealthCentral.


    The bottom line is that we shouldn't take the World Cup so darn seriously; it's just a game and should just be enjoyed as such. But I guess that's easy for me to say since my Azzurri took home the trophy four years ago.

Published On: June 11, 2010