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

Monday, April 08, 2019 7:00 AM

As the NFL Playoffs and College Football Playoff National Championship game gear up, fans are more excited than ever. Rooting on your favorite team in what could 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, 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 as we head into the big game:

  • 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 nail-biting game, 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 below symptoms, 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. Sticker blood can lead to blood clots which are associated with heart attacks. When you can, try to 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 condition while watching the game, it’s important to seek immediate medical attention.