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Medical News & Perspectives
January 22/29, 2003

Soccer "Sudden Death" Given New Meaning

JAMA. 2003;289(4):413. doi:10.1001/jama.289.4.413

Sports fans who think they understand the tension of a close game should take heed. As the clock ticks down, cheers and jeers can trigger not only yells and screams—but sudden myocardial infarctions (MI), too.

The English authors of an analysis of emergency department records are so convinced of the phenomenon that they are calling for the death of soccer match penalty shoot-outs, where the outcome teeters on 10 swift kicks (BMJ. 2002;325:1442-1443). "Aside from issues of sporting fairness, perhaps the lottery of the penalty shoot-out should be abandoned on public health grounds," write University of Bristol clinical epidemiologist George Davey Smith, PhD, and colleagues.