Football fans 'at risk of heart attack' due to intense stress levels

Football fans are ‘at risk of a heart attack’ due to intense levels of physical stress while watching their team play, Oxford researchers claim

  • Research has found that fans are at risk of a heart attack watching football 
  • The Oxford study revealed that cortisol levels are increased during live games 
  • The cortisol hormone increases blood pressure and causes a strain on the heart 
  • The research tested stress levels of Brazil fans during their 7-1 loss to Germany 

Football fans are putting themselves at risk of a heart attack due to the intense levels of physical stress caused by watching their team, new research has found. 

An Oxford study collected the saliva of 40 football fans before, during and after three World Cup matches in 2014.  The research found that levels of the hormone cortisol shot up during the games. 

The hormone is recognised as being dangerous in increasing blood pressure and causing strain on the heart. Stress levels between men and women did not differ during the course of the game. 

Research has found that fans are at risk of a heart attack due to stress levels watching football

The Oxford study tested fans’ stress levels during Brazil’s devastating 7-1 loss to Germany

‘Cortisol rocketed during live games for the fans who were highly fused to the team,’ said Dr Martha Newson, researcher at Oxford University’s Centre for the Study of Social Cohesion via the i. 

‘It was particularly high during games where their team lost. Interestingly, there were no differences in cortisol concentrations between men and women. 

‘Despite preconceptions that men tend to be more bonded to their football teams, women were in fact found to be slightly more bonded to their national team than the men.’ 

The study found that cortisol levels are raised during games, having an effect on the heart

Raised cortisol has the effect of causing fear, whether that be the feeling of impending doom or that their life could well be in threat or at risk of attack.

One of the three games that was tested in the study was Brazil’s devastating 7-1 defeat to Germany in the semi final, and the study found that this was the most stressful game of the three by far. 

According to the study, fans had used strategies to reduce stress during the match, such as humour and hugging, as coping mechanisms. It meant that by the time the full time whistle was blown, stress levels were at pre-match levels. 

 

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