I think it was in the excellent book The Great Cholesterol Con where I first read that football and heart attacks were linked.
That claim is backed up by this piece of research done when France won the 1998 world cup. In which it says:
Instead of about 33 deaths a day in the five days before and after the match, 23 men died of a heart attack on match day.
So there was a 30% drop in heart attacks in men the day France won the World Cup. Which means there should be a similar reaction in Spain. 10 more Spanish men are alive (or at least escaped a life changing trip to the hospital) as a result of Spain’s win yesterday.
But, in true interweb science fashion, there’s another study which says it ain’t so. This study reports that:
In a study conducted during the 2006 World Cup in Germany, researchers reported that men are three times more likely to have heart attacks on days when their national football team is playing in a key match.
Although it should be noted that this study was done in Germany, and Germany didn’t win the 2006 World Cup (Italy did), so maybe football increases heart attacks throughout the group and knockout stages, but there’s a reduction on the final day, if you actually win.
So I guess the real question is, how many people did the World Cup competition kill?!?