Watch CBSN Live

Big Games May Up Fans' Heart Risk

Some studies are finding an increase in heart attacks during big sporting events.

Researchers determined that, during the World Cup in 2006, German men's risk of having a heart attack almost tripled, from one-in-100,000 people to between two- and three-per-100,000 people, reports CBS News Medical Correspondent Dr. Jennifer Ashton.

Last year, researchers looked back at how residents of Los Angeles responded when their teams playing in the Super Bowl in 1980 and 1984, compared to other years. In 1980, the Rams lost to the Pittsburg Steelers, and in 1984, the Oakland Raiders defeated the Washington Redskins. The study, which appeared in The American Journal of Cardiology, found that, when their team lost, the number of heart attacks increased on game day and for a few weeks after. It may have had something to do with the lead during the games changing about a half-dozen times. In contrast, when the home teams won, mortality fell.

That said, the overall risk of having a heart attack while watching a big sports event is small, Ashton stressed.

Special Section: The 2010 Super Bowl

Heart attacks occur every day, so there really shouldn't be too much concern about increasing your risk when you watch a game like the Super Bowl. Still, there can be a lot of adrenaline pumping when watching the game. Combine that with food, alcohol and stress, and there's an increase demand on the heart as a muscle, which could lead to a heart attack.

And, says Ashton, it's not just people who obviously are at higher risk of having a heart attack, such as smokers, men over 50, diabetics and people who are obese and mostly sedentary: Anyone could be at risk.

For men, classic heart attack symptoms include:

Chest pain
Shortness of breath
Pain in the left arm
Jaw pain

Remember that chest pain could also be misinterpreted when you're eating a lot of food and yelling. But, if it's accompanied with other symptoms on that list, seek medical attention immediately.

Heart attacks are the leading cause of death among women. Approximately, 450,000 women die of a heart attack in the United States each year. Symptoms are often very different in women than in men. In a National Institutes of Health study in 2003, 43 percent of the more than 500 women involved said they didn't have any chest pain before or during the time they had a heart attack.

That said, most doctors still consider chest pain the most important heart attack symptom in both men and women.

Symptoms that a woman may be having a heart attack include:

Chest pain
Shortness of breath
Unusual fatigue
Back or jaw pain
Cold sweat and

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome browser logo Chrome Safari browser logo Safari Continue