You scared me to death!
" Evidently not!" or counter with expert knowledge: "Scared to death, that's unscientific nonsense!" Isn't it? The cardiologist John P. Erwin III, who teaches as a professor of medicine at the University in Texas, says the following: "It is possible to suffer health problems or death through fear." That's scary...
Let's start with the basics: The confrontation with a life-threatening situation leads to the release of the hormone adrenalin into the bloodstream. The rising adrenaline level causes the heart rate to soar and intensifies the blood supply to the heart. Whether it is a real danger to life or just a pretence of one is irrelevant for this physical process. This is the reason why horror movies and ghost trains can cause a pleasant shiver in healthy horror fans.
And now we come to the scary part: This bodily reaction can also trigger a heart attack or stroke, especially in people who are susceptible to heart disease. Also, some people with congenital heart abnormalities actually suffer heart rhythm disturbances when they get a sudden rush of adrenaline.
People who have experienced a lot of anxiety can also develop a condition called broken heart syndrome. Known scientifically as stress cardiomyopathy, Broken Heart Syndrome can also affect people who have not previously had heart health problems. In rare cases, such a weakened heart is no longer able to carry enough blood through the body's circulatory system. The resulting rapid increase in stress hormones can put the heart into a state of shock. In other words, your heart stops in shock.
So while the likelihood of being scared to death is very low for perfectly healthy people, there is actually some risk for those with a predisposition to heart disease, such as atrial fibrillation.
What does this little horror story teach us? You now have another reason to take your heart health seriously and have regular checks. With a mobile ECG you can get a quick feedback if everything is fine with your heart.
Sources: 1. ("It is possible for someone to have health complications or die from fright.")