It is common knowledge that for those susceptible to heart problems, a burst of intense physical activity, such as a game of football, could bring about a heart attack.
Even when sitting at home, watching the game on TV? Maybe.
On June 22 1996 Holland and France were playing for a place in the semi-finals of the European football championships. It was estimated that about 60% of the Dutch population were tuned in to watch the match.
Also noted, by scientists at the University Medical Centre, Utrecht, Netherlands, was a massive 50% increase in fatal heart attacks and strokes, amongst men, in Holland on that one day. (There was no such increase in fatalities amongst women.)
I probably don’t have to tell you – France won the match. It was a hard fought game, with neither side ahead even after extra time. A penalty kick decided the victors. Did the result ‘break the hearts’ of the Dutch men? It appears so.
Many people believe that emotions – positive or negative, can alter the course of even major physical diseases. Emotions obviously can affect certain body functions, such as heart rate, sweating, sleep patterns, and bowel movements.
Recent studies conducted at leading universities, hospitals and research facilities throughout the US are now linking mental and emotional stress with nearly all physical disease.
The emotional stress of watching your football team playing in an important match can cause anxiety. The nervous system is directly affected, triggering the release of adrenaline. The heart rate and blood pressure can increase. Anxiety can also bring on muscle tension, leading to pains in the head, back, neck or elsewhere.
On the bright side
Don’t forget that positive emotions affect our health too. It is accepted by most people that laughter and a positive attitude can improve health – and have a beneficial effect on the heart. The love and support of a partner, friends and family are also known to be an important factor.
Think also of placebo treatments which have worked just through the power of the mind.
The moral: Enjoy the sport on TV, be happy when your team are playing, but don’t take the scores to heart if they lose.