GREEN BAY - While the Green Bay Packers ended the season 15-1, many of those games were close, raising the excitement and stress level for fans.
"Oh there's been a couple close games, yeah," said Packers fan Danielle Dalasta
"I run around, scream, holler, yell," said fan Scott Lindner.
"All the fans that just gets my heart rate going," said fan Carly Resch.
"Not really heart pains, but I really want to pull my hair out sometimes," added Dalasta.
All of the fans we talked to described the stress they undergo during a Packers game. And they all handle it differently.
But to determine just how stressed fans get during the heat of a game, we enlisted the help of an expert to conduct a "stress test" to see if the Packers excitement really is breaking our hearts.
Lisa Koehler is a trauma nurse from the emergency room at Aurora BayCare Medical Center in Green Bay. She joined us at Champion's Bar and Grill, just an Aaron Rodgers throw from Lambeau Field, to hook up fans to a heart monitor to evaluate how stressed we get watching the Packers in action.
Throughout the final game of the season, we hooked up three fans to the monitor to check their heart rate and blood pressure. I know the game didn't have a lot on the line, but it was a high-scoring nail biter for our die-hard participants.
Jay Delveaux is 48, a little overweight and a smoker. Carly Resch is 25. She exercises and is in good health. And Scott Lindner is 50 years old in good health.
"His blood pressure is just a tiny bit high," Koehler said about Lindner, hooking him up to the monitor. "A little bit higher then we'd like to see it, but as things change we can go ahead and monitor how his body reacts to the changes in the game."
Watching the Detroit Lions jump out to a 9-0 lead got Scott anxious and riled up.
"My stress problems are on defense. They get me on edge that's probably the most stressful," said Lindner.
But his heart rate - in the low range when calm - went up just a little during the stressful moments to 83 beats per minute. The Mayo Clinic tells us the heart rate for a normal adult is in the 60-100 beats a minute range.
As the game progressed, fans found plenty of plays to cheer about and plenty of plays to get stressed over.
Carly tipped the stress scale during what looked like a Packers fumble recovery. Her calm heart rate in the 80s jumped to 123 beats per minute. Call it the Red Zone for stressed out football fans.
"Absolutely, getting excited watching the game could cause them to have a heart attack," said Koehler. "If your heart maintains a high heart rate over 120 for a sustained period of time, then you should seek medical attention."
The heart rate gets that jolt when the body releases the hormones epinephrine and norepinephrine into the blood stream in response to physical or mental stress. But in Carly's case, the elevated heart rate quickly returned to the normal range and her blood pressure was unchanged.
Carly says the Lions game was nothing.
"Definitely looking forward to the (divisional round playoff) game in a couple weeks. I'm sure my heart rate will be a lot higher then," said Resch.
As for Jay, he had alcohol in his system from drinking beer. The alcohol actually works as a depressant to keep the heart rate down. But his history of smoking and being overweight, along with his higher-than-normal blood pressure, raises the most alarming concern if stress from the Packers were to build.
"Smoking is probably the single worst thing anyone can do to themselves," said Koehler. "It constricts blood vessels, makes it harder for the heart to pump blood - it raises your blood pressure because of that - and sustained high blood pressure puts you at risk for stroke."
"I'm not high-strung, I don't think," said Delveaux.
Not during this game anyway.
"Stress can be from the Packers doing something stupid or you can have the same response when the Packers do something good," explained Koehler.
Our trauma nurse suggests fans not take what's out of their control so seriously. Have fun and enjoy the ride in the playoffs.
So for our test group we asked, "Is everybody safe here today?"
"For the most part I think so," said Koehler. "For most healthy people, there is no real damage."
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