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In the Game: Nerve-Racking Sporting Events and Your Heart

Friday, January 31, 2020 2:45 PM

Sunday’s big football game is almost here and everyone’s getting ready to watch the San Francisco 49ers vs the Kansas City Chiefs! Rooting on your favorite team in what many believe to be the most important game of the year can be at once exhilarating or gut-wrenching.

With the game and the season on the line, the pressure and anxiety of watching your team battle it out can leave your heart racing. Justin Levisay, MD, a cardiologist at NorthShore, shares some tips on how you can watch the game and still be mindful of your body.


Dr. Levisay offers the following pointers:

  • Some symptoms are normal. It’s common for fans to feel their hearts racing during an exciting game. This can often be triggered by the game itself, greasy food and alcohol.
  • Don’t ignore what doesn’t feel right. While most fans don’t have anything to worry about, serious symptoms should not be ignored. If you experience any of the following, seek medical help immediately:
    • Shortness of breath
    • Chest pressure or pain
    • Pain that radiates through your left arm
  • Take it easy. While rooting for your favorite team during an exciting game, your body may release stress hormones. These hormones can increase heart rate, raise blood pressure and make blood stickier. Stickier blood can lead to blood clots which are associated with heart attacks. Do your best to try and relax and remember that it’s just a game.

It’s worth noting that the more in shape you are, the more your body can handle. That said, if you suspect you may be suffering from a heart attack or other conditions while watching the game, it’s important to seek immediate medical attention.