Spurs fans feeling Finals stress

Doctor: Game stressors can be serious


SAN ANTONIO – Social media in San Antonio was full of comments like "Going to have a heart attack!!" and "HEART POUNDING... NAILS GONE!!!" during the fourth quarter and overtime of Game 6 of the NBA Finals Tuesday night between the San Antonio Spurs and Miami Heat. 

"The last minute about drove me crazy," said fan Madison Smith. "And I think it did everyone else, too."

While some fans exaggerated their stress levels, for some, the game's excitement can be too much to take.

"There actually is a real health concern and it's been studied, mostly in Europe, where soccer is very popular," said Dr. Anand Prasad, an interventional cardiologist at the University of Texas Health Science Center in San Antonio, where he is also an assistant professor of medicine. 

He referred to a 2006 study done in Germany during the 2006 World Cup that focused on the reported number of heart attacks on days when the national team played. The study found a two-fold increase in heart attacks on game days.

"You can have an elevation of heart rate or blood pressure. For most people, that's not a problem, particularly if you're young and healthy," said Prasad. "If you have risk factors for heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, known prior heart blockages, that may be a problem."

Part of the cure is also part of the problem. Prasad suggests avoiding high fat, high salt foods and smoking when watching the games, things that tend to go right along with cheering on your favorite team. 

"If you get worked up, maybe take a break in between the ad breaks or half-time," said Prasad.  "Do a little exercise, do a little meditation. Try to calm down and relax."

"I actually had to go take a walk down the block between regulation and overtime and come back, calm down," said Smith.

Also, another way to fend off stress is to get in shape to watch your team play. 

"You probably don't have to work out as hard as Tony Parker and those guys, but you certainly want to be relaxed," said Prasad. "You want to be in good physical condition."

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