Dr. Mitch Shulman: Go Habs Go?

Could there be a public health reason why the Habs haven’t gone very far in the post season? One that this youngster does not have to yet worry about?

Could there be a public health reason why the Habs haven’t gone very far in the post season? Perhaps they are worried about triggering heart attacks in their fans? A report published this fall in the Canadian Journal of Cardiology might reasonably lead you to that assumption.

The researchers put heart rate monitors on 40 people who watched the Habs play. Half watched at home; half were actually at the games. Not surprisingly, heart rates soared at key moments in the match. For example, during overtime or with scoring opportunities.

What the authors couldn’t show was whether these increased heart rates were associated with an increased danger of having a heart attack. For that we need to turn to other studies. One of the best looked at the what happened to people watching the World Cup soccer games in 2006. When the German soccer team played (the games were being held in the greater Munich area), heart attacks and similar events peaked in the first two hours after each match.

So, putting this all together, what can we deduce? First, should we watch hockey? Sure, but if you’re at risk for a heart attack because of high blood pressure, diabetes etc., make certain that your underlying risk factors are being taken care of and if the excitement is getting to you and you have chest pain, shortness of breath, feel unwell or light headed, please don’t wait until the end of the period to get help.

Dr. Mitch Shulman is an Assistant Professor, Dept. of Surgery, McGill Medical School and an Attending Physician, Emergency Department, McGill University Health Centre. He’s also the CJAD AM 800 Medical Consultant.

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