Watching sports can impact your heart health. Here’s what you need to know.

Football watchers

Sports fandom is one of the aspects of American culture that most unites us. As internet discourse and the draw of mobile devices create more social isolation, sports serve as one of America’s biggest collective cultural experiences.

But fandom doesn’t come without risk. Research from the National Institutes of Health has shown links between watching sports and cardiovascular events like heart failure and cardiac arrest. 

With that in mind, we recently spoke to Dr. Vedant Gupta, a cardiovascular specialist with the Gill Heart & Vascular Institute, about the potential risks to heart health posed by watching sports.

How can watching sports affect not only your mental health, but physical health?

Dr. Gupta: There are definitely certain things that happen around big sporting events that can put people at higher risk, especially if they have heart disease already, or risk factors for heart disease.

These include the stress around the events plus other things like alcohol consumption and dietary contributions. 

What can people do to minimize their risk heading into a game?

Dr. Gupta: There are definitely certain things people can do to help minimize their risk. If you have known heart disease or serious risk factors for heart disease, try to be mindful of consumption, both of alcohol and food. 

Also, stay active before the game. Try to make a point to get up and go for a walk or exercise beforehand. 

And as always, make sure that if you're taking medications for your heart, take those both before and after. And seek care if you do have symptoms during or after the game. 

What should you do if you're a bystander when somebody starts to experience a cardiac episode?

Dr. Gupta: The first thing I recommend anybody do if you happen to be a bystander to that scene is call 911. Before you even provide care for that individual, get experts on the way and then assess the patient. 

This is a great opportunity to remind everyone it’s a good idea to seek some basic CPR training. Every year we have stories that highlight how a bystander saved a patient's life through CPR, whether it's at a sporting event, or at the gym, etc. Taking some time and getting that training can save someone's life. 

Whether it's a loved one or someone else's loved one, it can change the course of that person's future. 

For more information and resources on heart health, visit the Gill Heart & Vascular Institute homepage by clicking here.

To learn some basics about hands-only CPR, click here.

This content was produced by UK HealthCare Brand Strategy.

Topics in this Story

    Heart Health