After Nigeria’s victory in the AFCON 2024 match against South Africa, tragic reports of death by heart attack drowned out the thrill of triumph among Nigeria’s football lovers.
As fans rejoiced over the team’s qualification for the finals, reports began to surface of viewers who slumped and died during and after the match.
Some of the deaths have been linked to high blood pressure.
This tragedy has sparked widespread concern, leaving people curious about the connection between high blood pressure and teh anxiety of football matches.
We examined how watching a match can affect blood pressure and how to watch a match safely.
WATCHING A MATCH AND THE RISK OF A HEART ATTACK
There’s indeed evidence that watching a match can put a viewer at risk of suffering a heart attack.
According to several studies, cardiovascular events including heart attacks and sudden cardiac death increase surrounding high-stakes games, especially in spectators who have underlying conditions.
A study also found that hospital admissions for cardiovascular problems increased by 15% during and just after the 2018 World Cup soccer games.
The increase in cardiovascular problems can be linked to the physical and emotional intensity of football, which can place significant stress on the body.
Meanwhile, stress does a lot of things to the body including the release of adrenaline and other hormones into the bloodstream.
These hormones, however, increase blood pressure and heart rate which tax the cardiovascular system, leading to an increased risk of heart attack.
HOW TO AVOID HEART ATTACK WATCHING A MATCH
Manage the stress
Truly, when watching a football match the tension is always high. However, for your heart’s sake, you need to stay calm as much as possible.
High-stress situations, such as intense football matches, can elevate blood pressure and increase the risk of heart issues.
To help you stay calm and manage your stress, practice relaxation techniques like meditation, mindfulness, and intense breathing.
Deep breathing is found to be effective in slowing your heart rate and reducing blood pressure.
This kind of breathing gives you a chance to manage those feelings and your stress levels, allowing you to calm yourself easily.
Hydration and a healthy diet
Dehydration can put additional strain on the heart, so ensure to drink plenty of water throughout the game.
However, avoid taking alcohol.
Alcohol can affect heart health and increase blood pressure.
Also, be mindful of what you eat before, during and after the match.
Avoid foods and drinks that can contribute to high blood pressure and heart issues like high-salt foods and fried foods.
Opt for healthier options like fruits and vegetables.
Take advantage of halftime to stretch your legs and move around.
Gentle exercise, like walking or stretching, can help improve circulation and reduce the risk of blood clots.
Know your limits and when to seek help
Apart from your doctor, you are the only one who knows about your health condition, risks, and limitations.
Be mindful of your body’s signals.
Also, be aware of the signs and symptoms of increased blood pressure, such as chest pain, shortness of breath, and dizziness.
If you experience any concerning symptoms, don’t hesitate to seek attention immediately.
While there’s always the option to catch up on the match through recorded clips, there’s no second chance when it comes to life.
So if you’re feeling any discomfort or signs of distress during the game, don’t hesitate to seek immediate medical attention.