Doctors warn of increased risk of heart attack during Super Bowl

History shows surge of cardiac emergencies during big games, especially among fans of losing team
Super Bowl raises heart concerns
Published: Feb. 9, 2023 at 2:02 PM MST
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TUCSON, Ariz. (13 News) - With Super Bowl LVII just days away, some Arizona doctors are asking viewers to monitor their stress levels to decrease the risk of a heart attack.

“We’ve seen more heart attacks during this time because people get stressed, especially in settings of unhealthy food, salty food, alcohol, maybe smoking, that’s all a recipe for a heart attack,” said Dr. Mohammad Habibzadeh, interventionist cardiologist at Carondelet Health Network.

Studies show that cardiac emergencies surge after a dramatic game, especially among fans of the losing team.

“Whether you’re cheering out for your team or grieving for the team loss, both of those, depending on the level of emotional involvement, will affect the cardiovascular system,” said Dr. J.R. Exequiel Pineda, interventionist cardiologist at the University of Arizona Sarver Heart Center.

Doctors add that stress during the game is not the only contributing factor to a heart attack. Certain foods and alcoholic beverages play a role. Doctors urge people to steer away from highly processed and salty foods.

It is also advised to avoid binge drinking and keep to no more than five drinks in one session.

“People tend to eat worse foods, very highly processed foods, chips and dip, and they drink a lot of alcohol, and that can lead to people getting admitted (to a hospital) especially if you have underlying health disease,” said Dr. Osama Abdel-Hafez, interventionist cardiologist at Northwest Medical Center Houghton.

As you are celebrating this game day, doctors say there are several warning signs to look for so you do not mistake heartburn for a heart attack. These signs include persistent chest pain, shortness of breath, dizziness, lightheadedness and nausea.

“If you get chest pains during the game, don’t blame it on the wings or food you had. It could be the real deal,” Habibzadeh said.

The good news is doctors say that you can decrease your risk of a heart attack while still embracing your Super Bowl traditions. Doctors advise taking breaks when the players do and switching out the chips and dip for a vegetable tray.

Practicing breathing techniques and taking short walks at the end of each quarter are also ways to keep your stress level low.

“If your team is not winning, take a deep breath and take it as a sporting event,” Pineda said. “The other team has to win right?”

The best piece of advice doctors offer to survive this Super Bowl is to remember it is just a game, and if you do have a medical emergency, do not delay care so you can see who wins.