How Watching The Super Bowl Can Affect Your Heart

Beer, nachos, football, and wings — for many fans tuning into the Super Bowl, these are a few of their favorite things. Every year Super Bowl Sunday signals a time when many Americans come together to rally around an epic sporting event, all the while consuming a bevy of foods and drinks that taste so good but are otherwise a bit of a gut bomb. But heartburn aside, the food and the game serve as a melting pot — even if some of the people at the bar or the party are not rooting for your team — for like-minded football fans to find common ground and enjoy the spectacle.

There's a reason that watching sports can bring people together, and it has to do with the heart. When watching live theater, not only do people's hearts beat faster, they can actually synchronize in rhythm together — even if you are complete strangers (via UCL Psychology and Language Sciences). And according to cinematographer and founder of NFL films Steve Sabol, the football field "looks like a big movie screen. This is theater." The rapt attention and nail-biting anticipation of the big game — plus all the delicious treats — are what makes Super Bowl Sunday so pleasurable. 

However, all of this enjoyment might come at a cost. Doctors warn that watching the Super Bowl could increase the risk of a heart attack. Here's everything you need to know.

The Super Bowl experience can weigh heavy on the heart

Believe it or not, the risk of a heart attack actually goes up by as much as 20% on Super Bowl Sunday (via ABC News). For starters, emotional stress and personal investment in the game can place stress on the cardiovascular system (via KOLD 13 News). One moment you might be cheering in elation, the next you might be in the throws of anger and disappointment. Football is often a game of highs and lows, so you might quickly experience both sides of the emotional spectrum. Then there's the indulgence in junky and salty foods, alcohol, and even smoking tobacco or vaping. Altogether, these factors can create an unfortunate recipe for a heart attack.

That's why doctors advise Super Bowl viewers to limit their drinks to five per session, perform breathing techniques during stressful moments, and take a walk at the end of each quarter. Fans should also be on the lookout for early signs of a heart attack like consistent pain in the chest, loss of breath, dizziness, feeling light in the head, and nausea.