Football – A Matter of Life and Death

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Rather surprisingly, some researchers decided to look at the impact of football on the rates of death from heart disease. In 2003, a study was published:  ‘A matter of life and death: population mortality and football results. And what did they find? On days when the local professional football team lost at home, mortality attributable to acute myocardial infarction and stroke increased significantly in men.

No increase was observed in women. However, when France won the World Cup in 1998, there was a considerably lower mortality from heart attacks the next day – as written up in a paper called ‘Lower myocardial infarction mortality in French men the day France won the 1998 World Cup of football; and published in Heart. By the way, this is not fringe research. A study was published in 2002 called ‘Admissions for myocardial infarction and World Cup football: database survey; which revealed that: Risk of admission for acute myocardial infarction increased by 25% on 30 June 7998 (the day England lost to Argentina in a penalty shoot-out) and the following two days. No excess admissions occurred for other diagnoses. or on the days of the other England matches.

Do you mean that the stress of watching your football team lose can kill you?

Well, so can getting up on a Monday morning…Risk of admission for acute myocardial infarction increased by 25% on 30 June 1998 (the day England lost to Argentina in a penalty shoot-out) and the following two days. No excess admissions occurred for other diagnoses. or on the days of the other England matches.

The incidence of sudden cardiac death is markedly increased on Monday, more pronounced in non-hospitalized patients. Our results may point to the relevance of naturally occurring rhythmic fluctuations in human physiology, and socially determined rhythms in human behavior as underlying mechanism. So the number four does not wipe out us westerners, but Mondays do. In Japan, though, if you are a woman, Saturdays are deadly. I wonder why? Is not marriage a wonderful thing…Leaving Monday mornings behind for a moment, wherever you look you will find the same things.

Stressful events, be they physical or psychological, greatly increase the risk of dying of heart disease.