Avoid matches that stir up your heartbeat, Experts caution football lovers


By Reporters

Medical experts and sports enthusiasts have advised sports lovers, particularly football fans, to stay clear of tension-filled matches that can excite them and trigger their known or underlying health issues.

They gave the advice in separate interviews with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Ibadan on Friday.

NAN reports that a number of Nigerians died following the anxious moments that characterised Wednesday’s semi-final match between Nigeria and South Africa in the ongoing African Cup of Nations (AFCON) games in Cote D’Ivoire.

The tension-soaked match, which ended in penalty kicks, saw Nigeria eventually winning 4-2.

The Medical Director, Ashamby Hospital, Moniya, Ibadan, Dr Muhammed Odedeji, said he was worried that many Nigerians usually go around with little or no knowledge about their health and wellbeing.

“It is unfortunate that we lost a number of people while watching a football game.

“This can only serve as a wake-up call for people to show more care about their cardiovascular wellbeing.

“Many people are walking with severe hypertension and other cardiovascular diseases and they are not aware because most cardiovascular diseases are usually not symptomatic until their last stages.

“For instance, most hypertensive patients will not know until they get stroke, heart attack, sudden blindness or maybe they are diagnosed accidentally while presenting themselves for minor ailments in the hospital.

“People regularly check the components of their vehicles but don’t go for regular medical check-ups.

“Of course, poverty also plays a big role in people’s disposition to their health conditions,” he said.

Odedeji, who is also the Publicity Secretary of Nigerian Medical Association (NMA), Oyo State branch, said that medical check-ups, especially for those older than or equal to 40 years, were non-negotiable.

“If you are already diagnosed with a chronic medical condition, accepting such a condition is important, while taking all the prescribed medications is equally paramount,” he said.

Odedeji urged individuals with cardiogenic conditions to stay away from highly-exciting conditions such as football matches.

“Regular health education on medical conditions that can lead to sudden death should be taken seriously by various media houses.

“Also, government should help to eradicate poverty because it has been proven to be a backbone to poor health conditions and lack of regular medical check-ups,” he said.

Similarly, a neurologist at University College Hospital (UCH), Ibadan, Dr Temitope Farombi, advised people to know their health status before watching football or getting engaged in any other activity that excites them.

“If you know you have any heart condition or you often get chest pain when you excite yourself, then avoid watching sports like football,” Farombi stated.

A psychologist from University of Ibadan, Prof. Oyesoji Aremu, also urged Nigerians to be at peace with themselves while watching football matches to avoid dire consequences.

Aremu advised those who could not withstand shock to avoid live matches but rely on getting to know the outcomes, either by checking for the results online or asking those who watched the match.

“When people watch football matches and if it has to do with countries that are volatile in football like Nigeria, it leads to the release of so many chemicals in the brain which will now work at cross purposes with the body.

“This can further lead to negative stress instead of eustress (which is positive). This can be counter-productive and injurious,” Aremu said.

Also, Tayo Balogun, a renowned sports analyst, urged Nigerians to watch the final match between Nigeria and Cote d’Ivoire just for enjoyment.

Balogun said that Nigerians should bear in mind that in football, anything could happen.

“We don’t pray for a negative result, but we need to be cautious and optimistic while watching.

“This match is not one that people should watch alone. Many people are not well; some are aware of their health challenges and managing them, while some have no idea what’s going on in their bodies.

“A high number of Nigerians have underlying health challenges, ” he said.

Babatunde Ojobaro, a comedian and actor, popularly known as Uncle Kata, said one or two of the sad incidents were due to heart attack.

According to Ojobaro, it goes to prove that many people have underlying sickness or high blood pressure.

“A general advice is for people to take their health seriously and have medical check-ups from time to time, especially BP and sugar levels.

“As regards the final match, people should find way of managing their emotions; don’t watch with all your heart.

“If you find yourself feeling a type of way or your heart is beating too fast or skipping, stop watching and leave the place.

“People should also be careful of wild celebrations or any altercation that can lead to fights should Nigeria lose,” he said.

NAN recalls that a Nigerian businessman, Chief Osondu Nwoye, passed on while watching the match between Nigeria and South Africa.

Nwoye, who was the CEO of Group Auto Promotion, collapsed after Nigeria’s goal was cancelled.

Deputy Bursar of Kwara State University, Alhaji Ayuba Abdullahi, a former member of House of Representatives, Cairo Ojuogbo and a corps member in Adamawa also died while watching the match. (NAN)

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