Can your heart handle the World Cup?

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Indy Lifestyle Online

According to a June 10 post on the blog, German and Italian researchers independently studied the link between football matches and heart attacks and arrived at differing outcomes.

The Germans said, "Our results show a strong and significant increase in the incidence of cardiovascular events (including the acute coronary syndrome and symptomatic cardiac arrhythmia), in a defined sample of the German population, in association with matches involving the German team during the FIFA World Cup held in Germany in 2006."

Whereas the Italians are now challenging the German study's results (as they are on the football field) with a more comprehensive study looking at "25,159 hospital admissions for acute myocardial infarction (AMI) among the Italian population during three international football competitions: the World Cup 2002, the European Championship 2004 and the World Cup 2006."

The Italian study's findings were published in the Advance Access March online edition of the International Journal of Epidemiology.

The authors from the University of Turin concluded, "The cardiovascular effects of watching football matches are likely to be, if anything, very small," noting "with the exception of the recently published German study and two small Swiss studies, all relative risk estimates were between 0.7 and 1.3."

That being said studies in the US, Germany and Switzerland have found differing results, so you may want to follow the advice of Dr. Al Sears, a nutritionist, physician and author of P.A.C.E. The 12-Minute Fitness Revolution, who has 10 key strategies to avoid having a heart attack while watching an exciting match (World Cup fans pay attention).

Many tips are common sense like exercise, select healthy snacks and eat and drink moderately but perhaps a friendly reminder will prevent heartaches this season. Sears does have some less known tips, including:

- Take co-enzyme Q10, an anti-oxidant, before the game to reduce risk of heart disease.
- Manage your anger, excessive anger and yelling at the TV will increase your chances of heart problems.
- Avoid gambling or wager an amount you're comfortable losing. Excess adrenaline caused by excitement, worry, or excess anxiety increases the risk of heart attack.
- Pay attention to heart attack warning signs: dizziness, chest pain, shortness of breath and nausea. Call emergency medical services if you experience any of these on game day or any day.

Full study, "It is just a game: lack of association between watching football matches and the risk of acute cardiovascular events":