The expression “scared to death” is true, experts say, as fear can trigger a heart attack and during the current coronavirus chaos, it’s important to calm your fears, protecting your emotional and mental health as well as your heart.
Dr. Gabe Mirkin tells us that 1 of the 1st recorded cases of death by fear occurred in the classic Sherlock Holmes detective story, “The Hound of the Baskervilles.”
“It was written in 1901 by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, who was not only a popular author but a brilliant physician who had extraordinary insight into the causes of disease long before there was scientific evidence to support his views,” Dr. Mirkin said.
In the classic story, Sir Charles Baskerville died from an apparent heart attack surrounded by the paw prints of a huge dog that, as legend would have it, killed one of his evil ancestors. Now 100 yrs on, an article in the British Medical Journal proposed that being scared to death should be called, “The Baskerville Effect“.
In the US the Felony Murder Rule allows prosecutors in all 50 states to bring 1st-degree murder charges against a defendant if someone dies during a crime such as burglary, rape, or kidnaping, even if the defendant did not intend to kill the victim.
Dr. Mirkin says that when people are frightened their adrenal glands release adrenaline that helps the flight-or-fight response. Adrenaline makes the heart beat faster to bring more blood to the muscles and also shunts blood from the intestines to your muscles. The hormone opens calcium channels in heart muscle cells, which fills these cells with calcium to keep the heart muscle contracted and prevents the muscle from relaxing.
“This can cause an irregular heartbeat, which can kill you,” says Dr. Mirkin.
While it is highly unlikely that fear could kill a healthy person with a strong heart, those with an underlying heart condition should be careful if they suffer any of the following symptoms:
- fluttering in the chest
- fast, slow or irregular heartbeats
- chest pain
- shortness of breath
- feelings of fatigue, light-headedness, dizziness or sweating
Be kind to everyone, including you, to reduce fear and anxiety. Follow the guidelines for social distancing and play it smart. Take action, face fear.
Have a healthy day, Keep the Faith!