"Tis the season that ghosts, goblins and other things that walk bump in the night. And while many Halloween terror are entirely harmless (think jack-o"-lanterns and also pointed hats), the frightful holiday could make friend wonder: Is the really feasible to be fear to death?


There"s no question about it, the price is yes, stated Dr. Robert Glatter, an emergency medical professional at Lenox Hill Hospital in new York.

You are watching: Can you scare someone to death

When civilization feel an overwhelming fear, their fight-or-flight solution jumps into action. This response likely benefited beforehand humans when they faced a menacing beast or aggressor, offering them the vital adrenaline to one of two people fight the attacker or flee the scene, Glatter said. <7 Weirdest medical Conditions>

The rush of adrenaline is one involuntary an answer controlled through the autonomic worried system. When faced with a fight-or-flight scenario, a human will experience fast heart rate, dilated pupils and increased blood circulation to the muscles, Glatter said.


Unfortunately, boosted levels the adrenaline can damages the heart, Glatter called Live Science.


When adrenaline is released, the triggers calcium networks in the love to open. "Calcium rushes into the heart cells, which reasons the love muscle to contract strongly," Glatter said. "Basically, in a huge response, the calcium keeps on pouring in, and the heart muscles can"t relax."

If a human being is scared and also has a big amount of adrenaline reaching his or her heart, the separation, personal, instance can build an arrhythmia dubbed ventricular fibrillation — an uncoordinated convulsion of the love that makes it quiver, no beat regularly as it should, Glatter said.

"It eventually leads to a drop in blood pressure, since without blood for the brain, you lose consciousness," Glatter said.


A terrifying event, be it a gun held to someone"s head or a chilling Halloween trick, can create this disorganized love movement, turning a scary instance into a deadly one, that said. <10 Ghost stories That will certainly Haunt You because that Life>

"It deserve to happen even in common people," Glatter said. "It doesn"t need to be a human being with pre-existing heart disease, although those human being would absolutely be at greater risk."

Fear isn"t the only trigger: Any type of extreme emotion can trigger the reaction. High level of adrenaline can lead to fatality during sexual intercourse, spiritual fervor or sporting events, Glatter said. The fight-or-flight an answer can likewise be motivated by according to sounds, such together sonic booms, or terrible smells, including entering the residence of a compulsive hoarder.

"We had actually a man who came into the ER with chest pain after he opened his neighbor"s door," Glatter said. "No one believed it was serious, yet he was actually having actually a heart attack. And he to be a young guy with no previous clinical history."

What"s more, "scaremongers" have the right to be organized legally accountable if lock scare people to death. In May, an insurance company agreed to pay $300,000 to settle a lawsuit worrying an 85-year-old guy who passed away after his car hit a tractor-trailer in Detroit, according to the associated Press. The man"s family members alleged the the tractor-trailer didn"t have visible backlights, and also that the male was precise "scared to death" once he unexpectedly saw the big vehicle during a rainstorm in 2008, the AP reported.

The guy hit the tractor-trailer moments later, possibly because of his heart condition, the AP said.

"The next time you want to scare someone, be careful due to the fact that you can be hosted responsible for it," Glatter said.

But there is great news. If the fight-or-flight response is involuntary, world can shot to temper your reactions come scary occasions by practicing yoga, meditation or mindfulness, Glatter said.

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Laura is an editor in ~ Live Science. She edit Life"s tiny Mysteries and also reports on general science, including archaeology and also animals. Her occupational has appeared in The brand-new York Times, Scholastic, well-known Science and Spectrum, a website on autism research. She has actually won many awards indigenous the culture of experienced Journalists and the Washington Newspaper Publishers combination for her reporting in ~ a weekly newspaper near Seattle. Laura holds a bachelor"s level in English literature and psychology from Washington university in St. Louis and an progressed certificate in science writing from NYU.