Health Buzz: Super Bowl Loss Could Trigger Heart Attacks

Orthorexia: an unhealthy obsession with healthy eating; work out now, weigh less in middle age.

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Super Bowl Losses Could Trigger Heart Attacks, Especially Among Older Fans

Watching your favorite team lose the Super Bowl could indeed prove heartbreaking, and not only because of munchie calories and fat. The emotional stress fans feel after a loss may be enough to trigger a heart attack—especially among those who already have heart disease, according to a study published today in the journal Clinical Cardiology. Researchers analyzed the death records of Los Angeles County residents in the two weeks before and after L.A. teams competed in two Super Bowls. After the Los Angeles Rams lost to the Pittsburgh Steelers in 1980, heart-related deaths increased by 15 percent for men and 27 percent for women. Among fans of all ages, those 65 and up fared the worst, with a more significant jump in deaths than younger fans. In the two weeks following the Los Angeles Raiders' Super Bowl win over the Washington Redskins in 1984, on the other hand, the heart-related death rate was slightly lower. "Emotional stress stimulates the fight-or-flight response," the study's lead author, Robert Kloner, a professor of medicine at the Keck School of Medicine at the University of Southern California, told Time magazine. "The sympathetic nervous system is jazzed up, and adrenalin is released. What does that do to the circulatory system? It increases heart rate, blood pressure, and forces faster contraction of the heart, which leads to an increase in demand for oxygen. When that demand isn't met, heart arteries can spasm, leading to ruptures of plaques that cut off blood flow to the heart muscle and cause a heart attack." So if you're into the Steelers or Packers, don't dismiss chest discomfort as the consequence of too much beer and buffalo wings—especially if your team is losing.

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  • Orthorexia: An Unhealthy Obsession With Healthy Eating

    At the beginning the goal seems innocent, even smart: a vow to eat more whole grains, or more fruits and vegetables. But healthy eating can turn rigid and confining, wiping out whole categories of food one by one—first anything with additives, perhaps, then maybe nonorganic produce, and then another and another. It can become decidedly unhealthy. The focus on quality and purity can deteriorate into orthorexia, a term coined in 1996 by physician Steven Bratman to describe a "fixation on righteous eating." Like anorexia and bulimia, it can wreak serious damage on the health of someone trapped in the obsession, U.S. News reports.

    "Orthorexia boils down to someone who is very, very concerned with eating what they consider the perfect diet," says Joy Jacobs, a clinical psychologist with the University of California-San Diego School of Medicine. "This is someone who takes healthy eating to an extreme and feels good about it. These people often have a sense of moral superiority." While others abuse their bodies, they know better. [Read more: Orthorexia: An Unhealthy Obsession With Healthy Eating.]

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    • Work Out Now, Weigh Less in Middle Age

      Everybody knows the importance of exercise in keeping weight down. What's more surprising is that physical activity in the present may prevent weight gain many years into the future, according to a study published in December in the Journal of the American Medical Association. Researchers who followed 3,554 people over two decades found that men who stayed highly active gained six pounds less on average after 20 years than their low-activity counterparts did. For women, the difference was a whopping 13 pounds. Waistlines were trimmer for both sexes in the high-activity groups as well. Those studied began as 18- to 30-year-olds. Their 38- to 50-year-old selves showed that consistent commitment to physical activity may mean fewer pounds tacked on during the years notoriously threatened by jiggly bellies.