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When Heart Is in the Game, Heart Is on the Line, Too

German cardiac emergencies leap during times team is taking the field during the World Cup

WEDNESDAY, Jan. 30 (HealthDay News) -- Cardiac emergencies leaped in a German region during the charged atmosphere surrounding the nation's participation in the 2006 World Cup soccer games, according to research published in the Jan. 31 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.

Ute Wilbert-Lampen, M.D., of the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universitat in Munich, Germany, and colleagues analyzed data from a sample of Bavarian emergency medical providers and transport services. The researchers measured cardiac events including myocardial infarction, cardiac arrhythmia and cardiac arrest that occurred during the World Cup and compared them to control periods at other times during that summer and previous years.

On days involving German team play, the incidence of cardiac emergencies was 2.66 times greater than during the control period, though the incidence differed between the genders (3.26 times higher for men and 1.82 times higher for women, compared to control period). On game days, incidence was highest during the first two hours after each match began.

"The excess risk of cardiovascular events associated with viewing stressful soccer matches (and probably other sporting events) is considerable, and evaluation of preventive measures is needed, particularly in patients with pre-existing coronary artery disease," the authors write. In addition to beta-adrenergic-blocking drugs, anti-inflammatories, anti-platelet drugs and stress-mediating receptor blockade, "non-medical strategies, such as behavioral therapy for coping with stress, should be considered."

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