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Wednesday, March 15, 2023

World Cup 2022: can I suffer a heart attack because of a game?

According to specialists at The Info Links, passion for the team can indeed trigger emotions that affect the heart

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Declan Foster
Declan Foster
I'm Declan Foster, and I write about information technology and politics. I'm certified in cybersecurity and networks.
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The most anticipated event of the year has finally arrived: the 2022 World Cup. This Sunday (20), the official opening of the championship takes place, which in this edition takes place in Qatar, marking the holding of the first dispute of its kind held in the Middle East. And the question of millions that hangs in the Brazilian’s head right now is: will Hexa come? Is your heart ready for so much emotion four years after the last elimination? 

Although the concern with Hexa is valid, even more so after the announcement of the squad’s call-up, there is a very important topic linked to the football theme: health, and we’re not just talking about the clinical condition of the players, but the fans. 

There is nothing more original in Brazil than the passion for football, which is cultural, true, and historical. A study carried out in 2017 by researchers from the University of Coimbra proved that the feeling between a fan and a team is the same between couples in love, measuring the reality and depth of the sensation. The research was published in Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience

On the other hand, just like in relationships, marital or not, fans are also subject to conflicts and emotions so strong as to trigger extreme stress and anxiety levels.  

Football and heart attacks 

For those who don’t remember, in 2019, after Flamengo won the Libertadores, two fans died from heart problems after great emotional stress, which was considered a trigger, especially for people with heart disease or high blood pressure. According to a study by the American Heart Association, hypertension and stress (also called emotional hypertension) are responsible for 15% of heart attacks. 

In the 2014 World Cup — this is almost impossible for a Brazilian not to remember —, where Germany and Argentina competed in the final (Brazil was eliminated with the famous seven × 1 to Germany), a study observed that the rate of hospitalizations per heart attacks, as well as mortality due to the problem, was considerably high during the football event — at the time it took place between June and July and Germany won the title by one × 0. 

The case is also not so rare among players, and although it does not occur for emotional reasons, it also deserves attention. In an interview with Azmi Tech, cardiologist Natasha Caldas explained that a strong heart does not mean it is healthy. About heart attacks in players, the doctor warned about the exaggeration of physical exercises and how the lives of athletes work, even with good habits, and end up suffering sudden deaths. 

Next, meet players who suffered a heart attack: Serginho, the defender of São Caetano, had a heart attack on the field in 2004 and died in the hospital.  

Marc-Vivien-Foé, a Cameroonian midfielder, fell ill and died during a match in 2003 – his autopsy revealed he had a hereditary condition called hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, which increases the risk of heart attacks while playing sports. 

Another case was that of Miklos Fehér, a striker for Benfica, Portugal, he was one of the biggest promises of Hungarian football, but he died after a heart attack also on the field.

In the list of Brazilian players, there is also Washington, the idol of Fluminense and Athletico-PR, who became known as ‘Valentine’s Heart’ due to heart problems. He had to undergo catheterization and angioplasty, and he was advised to quit football at the age of 27, according to a report by Lance. Still, he insisted on playing on the pitch and even broke the goal record in an edition of the Brasileirão for the club from Paraná.

We also had Éverton Costa, ex-Vasco and Santos, who had a cardiac arrhythmia in 2014 during the Copa do Brasil. At 28, he had to implant a pacemaker, and, unfortunately, he could not return to his sporting life.

Many will also remember Doni, a former goalkeeper who played for the Brazilian national team in 2010. The former footballer was ranked among the best goalkeepers in the world but retired in 2013, aged 34, after suffering a cardiac arrest and discovering an arrhythmia.

“The heart is a muscle, just like the arm. If you work it too hard, it will grow, it will hypertrophy, and then I may not have adequate blood flow to the rest of the body because this heart is too strong,” he said—specialist, emphasizing that heart problems are not restricted to heart attacks. 

“It has pressure, electricity, and structure. We can have a very well-formed heart, but some genetic problem makes me more prone to develop arrhythmia [for example].” 

According to the cardiologist, athletes undergo tests to track all kinds of problems, especially those that may interfere with performance or harm the athlete. However, that doesn’t mean he won’t develop heart disease throughout his career. 

Can fans suffer a heart attack during the World Cup? 

Studies like the one carried out with fans in Germany corroborate that the strong emotions caused by a football match can indeed trigger a harmful reaction in the body: such as arrhythmias and heart attacks.

Within that, there are also crises of anxiety, anguish, sadness, explosions of joy, excitement, anger, and everything else that affects the emotions and the brain – consequently overflowing to the physical. 

According to Dr. André Gasparoto, a cardiologist at BP — A Beneficência Portuguesa de São Paulo, in an interview with Azmi Tech, the emotions generated by sports are extremely valid, whether good or bad since both increase heart rate, blood pressure, and several breaths per minute. However, the changes are physiological. That is, they do not cause harm to health to the point of causing a heart attack in healthy people with no previous problems.

“We can have a heart attack, but it is not frequent. Especially if you are in good health, with preventive exams appropriate for your age and comorbidities.”

For cardiologist Carlos Rassi, from Hospital Sírio-Libanês in Brasília, who also spoke to our website, heart attacks while watching a football match are linked to high doses of adrenaline, which the body releases due to emotions. 

Of course, people with previous heart problems are more susceptible, “such as patients with systemic arterial hypertension, who already have coronary stents or who have already had a heart attack.”

“Strong emotions can cause the adrenal glands to release large amounts of adrenaline into the bloodstream. This causes the heart to increase its force of contraction and the number of beats. 

These physiological changes increase the need for blood for the heart muscle, and if the patient has coronary arteries with partial obstruction, we may have an ischemic event. Another possibility is the instability of coronary atherosclerotic plaques, which can rupture and form thrombi”, explained the doctor.

66% of Brazilians will triple their beverage consumption during the World Cup

A recent survey by the sitedeapostasonline.net  with Brazilian fans revealed that 66% of Brazilians intend to triple their alcohol doses during the 2022 World Cup games, emphasizing the southeast region. The survey questioned 1,000 fans from all regions of the country and asked if everyone would be willing to spend more during the sporting event; the majority said yes, with emphasis again on the southeast, with a beverage expenditure above the national average.

In numbers, the study calculated that the consumption of beverages goes from 152 per month to 461 during the World Cup games. Among men and women, the group of girls seems to be more willing to drink (34% more), but men intend to spend more, totaling R$ 701.4 for them during the entire competition (only with drinks), against R$ 589 for women.

It is not news to anyone the consequences of alcohol consumption, either by long-term consumption or excess. Gasparoto pointed out that drinks are also related to heart health, being more responsible for cases of arrhythmias but also contributing to an increased chance of heart attack in people with higher cardiovascular risk. “When alcoholic beverages are consumed with energy drinks, the risks increase,” he pointed out.

With the intention of greater consumption of alcohol, especially concerning young people, there is also the consumption of energy drinks, as the doctor recalled. Here, it is worth highlighting a case that stirred the internet in 2014 and sparked an alert to consumers:

MC Gui’s brother, Gustavo Castanheira, aged 17, died after a cardiac arrhythmia resulting in a cardiorespiratory arrest after heavy alcohol consumption. And energetic. The young man didn’t know he had heart problems, as some conditions can be pretty silent.

“The precautions that we should all have with our hearts for the World Cup and life are: practicing regular physical activity, controlling obesity, quitting smoking, sleeping well, and having regular check-ups and medical follow-ups to have a diagnosis and early treatment of possible comorbidities,” guided Dr. Rassi.

Gasparoto, on the other hand, added that it is also important to stay hydrated and have an adequate diet, in addition to “not failing to use your continuous medications,” something “fundamental to enjoy the World Cup in the healthiest possible way.”

Brazil’s first game should take place on the 24th (Thursday) at 4 pm. For the joy of the Brazilian who likes to maintain the rituals of tradition, although the most famous sports announcer in Brazil, Galvão Bueno, has been diagnosed with covid-19 and, for this reason, will not open the 2022 World Cup on the Network Globo as it used to happen for years, he is already doing well (phew!) and will be in Qatar to narrate the debut of the Brazilian team and release the famous: “Haja Coração!” (notice, double meaning).

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