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Germany saw rise in heart attacks during FIFA World Cup 2014, most deaths in final vs Argentina

A German study found 18,479 heart attacks were reported during the World Cup in Brazil, while there were 18,089 heart attacks in the same period in 2013, and 17,794 in 2015.

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New Delhi: The rate of heart attacks in Germany went up significantly during the FIFA World Cup 2014, with deaths due to the ailment peaking during the World Cup final, which the country won, a new study has found.  

According to the researchers, including those at the University Medical Center Mainz and Heidelberg University Hospital in Germany, this was because important football events can induce excitement, stress and anger. 

The study, published in the journal Scientific Reports Thursday, noted that over 34.5 million people — more than half the country’s population — watched the duration of the World Cup, including the final, in which Germany had defeated Argentina 1-0 in extra time. 

For the study, the team analysed data of heart attack patients between 12 June and 13 July in 2014 — the duration of the football World Cup in Brazil — and for the same period in 2013 and 2015. 

The study found that 18,479 heart attacks were reported during the World Cup in Brazil, while there were 18,089 heart attacks during the same period in 2013, and 17,794 in the corresponding period of 2015. 

In effect, the world cup period saw 2.2 per cent more heart attacks than in 2013 and nearly 4 per cent more than in 2015. 

According to the study, the hospital death rate among heart attack patients was not affected by the World Cup, as compared to the two other years. 

The researchers, however, noted an increase in in-hospital deaths during the duration of the tournament in 2014. 

They found that the death rate rose from about 7.9-9.3 per cent of the hospitalisations on match days to 12 per cent on the final day. The in-hospital death rate for heart attacks was highest on the day of the World Cup final. 

Also read: Football, the beautiful game, has turned ugly in China

Not the first such study

This is not the first study to show a link between heart attack and football events. In 2002, a study showed that the risk of admission due to heart attacks increased by 25 per cent in England on the day the country lost to Argentina in a penalty shoot-out and the two days after it, during the 1998 World Cup in France. 

“Since the German team was not defeated at the FIFA WC 2014 and won the championship, we were not able to distinguish between match days with defeats and wins,” the researchers wrote in the study. 

“However, our study demonstrated in accordance with most studies that WC soccer events are potent triggers of myocardial infarctions (heart attacks) that should not be underestimated,” they added.

(Edited by Arun Prashanth)

Also read: How Europe’s biggest football leagues are witnessing a revolution


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