Hockey risk management: Watching too much on tv can kill you

Even before the slew of recent severe concussions in the NHL (it’s all the rage since Sidney Crosby got his) or fractures to cervical vertebra, we knew that hockey was hazardous to the health of those who played the game. But did we know it is hazardous to those who watch it too?

According to a study in this week’s Journal Open Medicine it is. The researchers compared 100,000 emergency visits in Ontario over six Sundays before and after the Vancouver 2010 Olympic men’s gold medal hockey game where the now concussed Sidney Crosby scored the game winner in overtime. As you recall, Canada won the gold medal and the USA did not.

Conclusion: A mass media event like a hockey game or Super Bowl “can influence patient preferences and thereby lead to a decrease in emergency department visits”. Less people (chose) to go to the hospital when a game is on and put their health at risk.

While the study reports fewer visits from patients complaining about abdominal pain, joint pain and trauma, there was a small increase in cardiac emergencies (probably helped by beer and wings being consumed). With Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final in Vancouver tonight, local doctors and nurses should have a quiet evening between 5-9 pm. However, if we see another nail-biter or 1-0 game, the coroner should be on alert for all the extra work they’re going to have to do tomorrow.

In a related story, there is a higher risk of type 2 diabetes and heart problems and early death among people who watch too much television. So who knows.


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