How watching football was nearly the death of a fan

LONDON Fri Dec 16, 2011 10:33am EST

LONDON (Reuters) - Watching your favorite football team trying to hang on to a precarious lead in the dying minutes of a match is enough to frazzle anyone's nerves, but for one Manchester United fan the stress was nearly too much.

The 58-year-old woman gets so anxious she has to take treatment for a life-threatening condition brought on by watching knife-edge games at the Old Trafford stadium.

The condition, known as an Addisonian crisis, comes about when the adrenal glands do not produce enough of the stress-reducing hormone cortisol, a lack of which can lead to low blood pressure and even a coma.

"We believe that our patient was having difficulty mounting an appropriate physiological cortisol response during the big games and therefore we present this as the first description of Manchester United-induced Addisonian crisis," said Dr Akbar Choudhry who treated the patient.

Doctors suspected the condition when the woman started getting bouts of anxiety, palpitations, panic, light headedness, and a sense of impending doom towards the end of matches.

The symptoms were less serious when the home side was playing a lower-rated team.

An Addisonian crisis, which is a manifestation of Addison's disease, is difficult to diagnose because the main symptoms include fatigue, lethargy and low mood -- often experienced by otherwise healthy people and frequently reported in many other chronic conditions.

"Luckily, the patient was on holiday for United's 6-1 defeat by local rivals Manchester City in October," Choudhry said in a report on

"But, by this time, doctors had fine-tuned her therapy and she has remained symptom-free during recent tense contests against Sunderland and FC Basel," he added.

Treatment coincided with the start of the 2011/12 football season and the patient has managed to attend all games at Old Trafford without any adverse effects.

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