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Events that induce stress in a large number of people in a defined area, such as earthquakes and war, have been reported to increase the incidence of myocardial infarction. In contrast, the effect of major sporting events, such as a major football (soccer) match, on cardiovascular mortality is still controversial.1–3 On one hand the emotional and mental stress, and alcohol and tobacco consumption, could increase myocardial infarction mortality, but on the other hand the immense fervour and the collective euphoria observed at the time of a victory could decrease this mortality. We hypothesise that in an exceptional positive sporting event, the total effect could be a decrease in cardiovascular mortality. The final of the World Cup of football held in France on Sunday 12 July 1998 gave us the opportunity to assess this hypothesis.
We analysed data on mortality using the French cause of deaths statistics system for June–July 1997 and 1998. The data comprised sex specific numbers of deaths from all causes (International classification of diseases, …