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The thrill of victory may cause the agony of a heart attack during close World Cup soccer matches, according to medical researchers who recently published a study in the New England Journal of Medicine about the relationship of World Cup soccer and increased cardiac events.

During close matches, World Cup soccer fans in Germany were found to have an increase of cardiac events of almost three times for men and almost two times for women when their national team was playing, according to the report. The report charted more than 4,000 Germans during the 2006 World Cup and assessed that during close games, the incidence of cardiac emergencies was increased 2.66 times.

“World Cup soccer comes so infrequently that national pride just builds and builds and the heightened emotions certainly can lead to more cardiac events,” said Dr. Michael Michalski, a cardiologist at Alvarado Hospital. “As a World Cup soccer fan myself, I know how worked up I get when my team is playing in a close match, so I can understand the stress factors, both positive and negative, that work to put fans at increased risk for a heart attack.

“Fans and their families need to be aware of the risk factors that may play a role in causing a cardiac event, such as being overweight, smoking, diabetes, and a family history of heart disease,” he continued. “The best advice for those with already existing cardiac risk factors is to take some precautionary measures."

Dr. Michalski said to look for signs and symptoms of a heart attack to ensure that immediate care can be given. “Clenching pain in the chest, radiating pain in the jaw, arm or shoulder can often be the first signs of a cardiac event. Call 911 if you suspect that you may be having a heart attack.”