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Professional football in L.A.? Only if we learn to relax

March 28, 2009 |  7:15 am

Perhaps the risks are just too great for L.A. to have its own professional football team.

Researchers at Good Samaritan Hospital here have analyzed the number of total deaths -- plus those deaths specifically linked to heart disease and heart attacks -- in Los Angeles County in specific Super Bowl time periods. And don't let it be said that Angelenos don't care about pro football.

In comparing the effects of wins and losses on fans,  cardiologist Dr. Robert A. Kloner and his colleagues parsed the numbers from game day -- plus 14 days after.

Which Super Bowls?

In 1980, when the L.A. Rams played the Pittsburgh Steelers -- and L.A. lost.

In 1984, when the L.A. Raiders played the Washington Redskins -- and L.A. won.

And the 2000 through 2004 games, when Los Angeles didn't have a football team and thus had to live vicariously, and safely as it turns out, through other cities' Super Bowls.

Deaths were higher when L.A. lost. The researchers surmise that emotional stress may play a role.

More detailed results were to be announced today at the American College of Cardiology Conference in Orlando.

And, lest you think that Angelenos are somehow more susceptible to emotional stress than sports fans in other cities, check out this recent study, Cardiovascular events during World Cup soccer, in the New England Journal of Medicine. German soccer fans, it turns out, take the World Cup fairly seriously.

Those researchers concluded: "Viewing a stressful soccer match more than doubles the risk of an acute cardiovascular event. In view of this excess risk, particularly in men with known coronary heart disease, preventive measures are urgently needed."

Of course, passing on the whole pro-football thing wouldn't reduce similar risks posed by the basketball playoffs or USC's Rose Bowl forays or...

Maybe mandatory yoga at halftime?

-- Tami Dennis

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