Watching sport puts as much strain on the heart as going for a run –

Those watching the spectacle live experienced an average heart increase of 110 per cent, while there was a 75 per cent increase for those watching remotely.

The study, published in the Canadian Journal of Cardiology, advised doctors to warn sports-supporting patients at risk of cardiovascular ill-health to be aware of possible symptoms during games.

“Our analysis of elements of the hockey game associated with peak heart rates supports the notion that it is not the outcome of the game that primarily determines the intensity of the emotional stress response, but rather the excitement experienced with viewing high-stakes or high-intensity portions of the game,” Professor Paul Khairy, from the Montreal Heart Institute.

Prior to the study, participants were asked to fill in a general health questionnaire and to indicate how passionately they supported the team they were about to watch play.

Subsequent analysis found the “passion score” did not bear a significant correlation to changes in heart rate.

Writing in an accompanying article, experts said the danger of cardiovascular events was “particularly high in the arena and at dramatic moments such as overtime.

“At-risk patients should be warned about potential cardiovascular symptoms and should be instructed to seek medical attention promptly if symptoms develop,” they said.

Previous research found a spike in fatal heart attacks and strokes among Dutch people on the day the national football team was knocked out of the 1996 European championship.