Hong Kong medical experts warn World Cup could be deadly

With high drama hanging over every goal, pulsing heart rates and the stress of watching a World Cup match, medical experts in Hong Kong have warned of heart attacks due to excessive beer consumption, fast food binges and extra stress.

Although there are no formal studies on how watching football matches affects the health of Hongkongers, University of Hong Kong’s cardiology professor David Siu Chung-wah noted that the cases at Queen Mary Hospital during the 2002 World Cup showed a positive correlation between cardiovascular events and the World Cup, reported South China Morning Post.

At that time, the hospital admitted 22 patients for acute cardiovascular events, higher than the admission number of 15 for the same period in 2003 and then 11 in 2004.

“It’s not just the World Cup, there were previous studies about sudden activities like an earthquake easily triggering heart attacks in those who might have a pre-existing heart condition,” Siu said. This is especially alarming for men with an existing or hidden heart problem when snacking on high-sodium content junk food amid an emotional roller coaster.

“The individual can easily get excited, leading to a rise in blood pressure, pulse and other conditions, triggering cardiovascular events,” Hong Kong cardiologist Dr Bernard Wong Bun-lap said.

“A lot of the time those who watch the World Cup are people who do not exercise much but love to drink, smoke and eat junk food, those we call ‘couch potatoes’,” he continued.

One recent example was during this year’s World Cup on 27 June when Argentine soccer legend Diego Maradona fell ill while watching his country’s match against Nigeria. One study published in The New England Journal Medicine found that in 2006, when Italy beat Germany in the semi-finals, German men were 2.66 times more likely to suffer from an acute cardiovascular condition.

However, the silver lining of the intensive football tournament is its post-match baby boom, wrote the newspaper, citing Germany and Spain as examples. When the two countries won the championship in 2006 and 2009, respectively, its national birth rate consequently saw double-digit growth after nine months.

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