When Argentina beat England in a penalty shoot out in the 1/8th finals of the 1998 World Cup, the English fans were heartsick — some of them literally! A recent survey of the English Department of Health’s health episodes statistics database examined hospital admissions on the day of and the two days after each of England’s four 1998 World Cup matches. The month before the matches as well as the same periods in 1997 and 1999 were used for comparison. The Cup matches were not associated with any change in admissions for stroke, road traffic injuries or deliberate self-harm, and there was no significant difference in the number of acute myocardial infarctions (AMIs) after England’s first-round games (two wins and a loss). The period following the fateful game with Argentina, however, was associated with a 25% increase in admissions for AMI, suggesting that intense emotional response to the suspenseful game may have taken its toll on some fans.
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