Doctors say heart attack risk rise during high-stake sporting events like Super Bowl

Published: Jan. 31, 2018 at 3:30 PM CST
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Sunday’s Super Bowl may be a real 'heart stopping' situation for some. Doctors say when fans watch high-stakes sporting events their risk for heart attack goes up.

Aurora BayCare interventional cardiologist, Dr. William Witmer says heart rates spike when adrenaline is pumping during exciting parts of a game, like overtime.

"There was a recent study in Canada that was very interesting that showed fans’ heart rates increased significantly when they watched hockey games both in person and on TV. They increased so much that it was equivalent to a vigorous to moderate amount of exercise," said Dr. Witmer.

Heart disease continues to be the number one killer for both men and women. Those who are obese, have a family history of heart disease, smoke or have diabetes are more susceptible to heart attacks.

To decrease heart attack risk, Dr. Witmer suggests daily exercise and a diet full of fruits, veggies and fiber. He says people should watch what they’re eating during Super Bowl parties.

"Staying away from fried fatty foods and carbohydrates and chips, focus more on fresh vegetables, berries, fruits, even roast vegetables they get really yummy that way. For dips use hummus and maybe tzatziki yogurt sauce instead of the sugary fatty dips," Dr. Witmer advises.

Football fans starting to feel their heart rate rise should take a break.

"Maybe leave the area, do some deep slow breathing exercises. Take deep slow breaths, four in a row, that can really increase the good hormones in your body and decrease adrenaline cortisol hormones and help relax the heart and protect the heart," said Dr. Witmer.

Dr. Witmer says chest pain or any discomfort above the waist lasting more than 15 minutes require medical attention. He also recommends chewing aspirin while waiting for an ambulance.

"Unless you're allergic to aspirin or have some adverse reaction, chewing four baby aspirin is a reasonable thing to do," Dr. Witmer says.