Abstract Emotional excitement may trigger cardiovascular (CV) events, particularly in patients with coronary artery disease (CAD). Our aim was to compare changes in various biomarkers in CAD patients and age-matched healthy male subjects during “real-life” emotional excitement. Enthusiastic male ice hockey spectators (CAD n=18, healthy subjects n=16) attended Finnish national ice hockey play-off matches. Heart rate variability, plasma catecholamines, endothelin-1 (ET-1) and interleukin-6 (IL-6) were determined at the baseline and during the match. A significantly more marked increase in both ET-1 and IL-6 was observed in CAD patients compared with healthy subjects during the match (time×group interaction p=0.009 and p=0.018 for ET-1 and IL-6, respectively). The high-frequency power of R–R intervals decreased in CAD patients (p<0.001) but did not change in healthy subjects (p=ns, time×group interaction p<0.001). Changes in adrenaline and noradrenaline did not differ between the groups. Emotional excitement causes more marked increases of markers of vasoconstriction and acute inflammation and withdrawal of cardiac vagal regulation in patients with CAD.