It was a congenial study. During the football World Cup in Germany in 2006, doctor Ute Wilbert-Lampen and a few colleagues analysed some simple data records and lined up some not so complicated statistical calculations. The whole thing was rewarded with a publication in the New England Journal of Medicine (2008; 358:475), in which the doctors from Munich showed that the risk of acute cardiac events is more than twice as high as usual while football games which affect the audience emotionally are being broadcast on television.
That this connection could somehow or other have something to do with physiological stress reactions is obvious. Now also, the danger threatens again, the tsunami of adrenalin that flows like a collective energy drink across all those countries whose teams are taking part in Poland and Ukraine.
What amounts of adrenalin are we really talking about? Exact figures on the adrenalin secretion of the adrenal gland in stressful situations are rare, and the inter-individual variability of hormones in general is significant. It is known that the adrenalin concentration in the blood at rest is below 100 ng / l. It is also stated that sometimes during acute stress it can increase by a factor of ten.
A final was enough for all allergy sufferers
Let’s make the calculation then. 100 ng/l in, let’s say six litres of blood, makes a maximum of 600 nanograms of adrenalin in a resting body. If we now assume that a dramatic penalty shoot-out is the biggest stress reaction that can torment the life of a football fan, the adrenalin concentration could in this case increase tenfold. That would respectively mean, at 1000 ng/l, 6000 nanograms in six litres of blood. Thus the adrenal gland would have to secrete, in order to reach this level, an additional 5.4 nanograms, that is 5400 micrograms.
Now, the half-life of adrenalin is one to three minutes. Football-induced stress reactions however usually last a little longer. Accordingly, every three minutes about 3000 nanograms would have to be recreated in order to maintain the level. If we assume 30 minutes or so of mega-stress, coming from a second half extra time plus penalty shootout, then we would need 5,400 nanograms initial output plus 10 x 3,000 nanograms, equalling 35,400 nanograms or 35.4 micrograms per fan just to maintain the serum concentration during this half hour.
With, let us say 320 million feverish soccer fans in Europe, there would be approximately eleven kilograms adrenalin Europe-wide, just for a penalty shootout. This in turn could at a dose of 2 mg per syringe supply over 5 million emergency kits for allergy sufferers. In other words: anyone who leaves their TV off during the final not only reduces his risk of cardiac events by more than half: he or she can also stand up tall around his or her allergy-plagued neighbors.