The favorite team of most of the people reading this hasn’t played in the Super Bowl for two decades. It hasn’t even had much of a sniff at the game since then. But that doesn’t mean Sunday’s Super Bowl won’t prove to be a real heartbreaker for some fans.
Recent studies suggest that the emotional stress fans feel after a loss may trigger fatal heart attacks, especially in people who already have heart disease, according to the Catholic Health System.
Stress generates the so-called fight-or-flight response, which causes sharp upticks in heart rate and blood pressure that can strain the heart.
“Fans often become emotionally invested in the game and get to the point of actually feeling like they are at the game,” said Dr. Harry McCrea, chief of cardiology at Kenmore Mercy Hospital. “As a result, they start to feel the effects of being overly stressed, which leads to elevated blood pressure.”
Stress can be aggravated by common game-related past times, such as trash-talking and betting. Consuming copious amounts of beer and fatty foods such as chicken wings can increase the risk of heart disease.
“Food is directly involved in many of the risk factors for coronary heart disease,” McCrea said. “Paying attention to what you eat is one of the most important preventive measures you can take. Saturated and trans fats in the diet tend to increase LDL (bad) cholesterol in the blood. Common sources of saturated fats include animal products and processed foods.”
According to the Calorie Control Council, Americans eat about 30 million pounds of snacks during the Super Bowl, and that averages out to about 1,200 calories and 50 grams of fat per person.
“The key is not to avoid the Super Bowl,” McCrea said. “Rather, just be aware of over indulging too much. Try not to associate your consumption with the emotions you’re feeling with the game.”