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Passionate soccer fans at risk of serious heart attacks during the European Championship


Stress at major sporting events can lead to health problems
In the near future, many people in Germany will surely watch the European Football Championship. The mood during TV evenings with friends or at the so-called public viewing is usually exuberant and nothing stands in the way of a nice evening. However, such large sporting events could also have negative consequences for us. Following the European Championship can create stress. This then increases the risk of developing a heart attack.

Scientists from the prestigious King’s College in London and St. Thomas’s Hospital have now found that major sporting events (Olympic Games, European Football Championship) increase our risk of heart attacks. The stress that arises from cheering on your own team can therefore pose a serious threat to our health. The experts presented the results of their study at the British Cardiovascular Society conference in Manchester.

People with heart problems should avoid stress at the European Championship
The experts warn that psychological stress associated with major sporting events can increase the risk of heart problems. The European Championship will start in a few days and the Olympic Games will be held this August. So this summer could be life-threatening for some fans with existing heart problems. Those affected should therefore be careful and not expose themselves to too much stress to reduce the likelihood of a heart attack, the doctors advise.

Researchers are studying the effects of stress on people with coronary heart disease
The danger is of course not only for fans who watch the European Championship matches live on site. People who watch this sporting event on television also face an increased risk, the researchers say. For the small study, fifteen subjects were examined by the researchers at Kings College in London and the doctors at St. Thomas Hospital. These participants all suffered from significant coronary artery disease (CHD), the doctors explain. The researchers also examined another eleven test subjects without any heart problems.

Subjects had to complete various stress tests
The subjects underwent various tests that triggered psychological stress, the doctors say. The experts measured blood pressure and the speed of blood flow through the arteries. The researchers then found that the tests resulted in an increase in heart rate and blood pressure. These effects reflect the increase in the oxygen demand of our heart muscle, the experts explain.

Effects of stress: Blood flows poorly through the small blood vessels in the heart
The doctors were able to observe in their examinations that there was an increased obstruction of the blood flow through the small blood vessels in the heart. This clearly shows that psychological stress of this kind can pose a health risk, explains Professor Jeremy Pearson from the British Heart Foundation, which funded the study. However, a larger scale of the studies is necessary to confirm the existing results. But during Euro 2016, it is likely that many people will experience some mental stress and even more frustration, the expert adds.

Beta blockers can reduce the body's stress response
The results of the study clearly show that people with coronary artery disease should do everything possible to minimize the stress of the European Championship, the scientists advise. There are currently no special treatments to combat these effects, says lead author Dr. Satpal Arri. Current angina treatments such as beta-blockers could reduce the body's stress response and at least offer some protection.

People with coronary artery disease should try to minimize the risk
Other observational studies with large populations have already found that terrifying natural events (earthquakes, volcanic eruptions) create psychological stress, which is associated with an increased number of heart attacks and other heart diseases, the experts explain. In the short term, our results suggest that mental stress occurring at the European Championship could increase the risk for some people with coronary artery disease, the doctors conclude. Affected people should seek help and treatment to minimize the risk accordingly, Satpal Arri and colleagues continue. (as)

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