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The legendary football manager Bill Shankly once quipped: 'Some say that football is a matter of life or death

The legendary football manager Bill Shankly once quipped: 'Some say that football is a matter of life or death. But it's much more serious than that.'

It's a witticism with which doctors would agree, especially following a study among men in the North of England. Researchers discovered that the rate of fatal heart attacks and strokes soared on Saturday afternoons among football supporters if their favoured local side lost a home match. Losing away from home seemed to be more forgivable, and tended not to cause a fatal attack.

The researchers studied medical records covering a five-year period and discovered a connection with Saturday afternoons, home football matches (when the home team lost), men and heart failure.

The controls were the women, who were nowhere near as affected by football results as their menfolk (J Epidemiol Commun Health, 2003; 57: 429-32).


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