Memo to rabid March Madness fans: Keep a bottle of aspirin next to the beer for the big games the next two weekends. No, not to cure a hangover, but to protect your heart.
A growing body of research suggests championship sporting events can be hazardous to the health of an obsessed fan — especially when your team loses after a seesaw contest.
The latest evidence comes from a report showing that deaths, including heart-related deaths, increased in Los Angeles County during the two weeks following the 1980 Super Bowl. The underdog Los Angeles Rams lost that battle to the Pittsburgh Steelers in a game in which the lead changed seven times. By contrast, four years later, when the L.A. Raiders defeated the Washington Redskins by a lopsided score, deaths in L.A. fell.
Getting really emotionally involved in your team "can result in emotional stressors," says Robert A. Kloner, director of research at Good Samaritan Hospital, Los Angeles, and an expert in heart-attack triggers. "That isn't always good for the heart." Dr. Kloner is presenting the research this weekend at an American College of Cardiology meeting in Orlando, Fla.
Perhaps, Dr. Kloner suggests, the euphoria of winning comes with protective effects on the heart.