When we’re frightened, the part of the nervous system is activated that makes our adrenaline surge. Our heart beats faster and our blood pressure rises in a “fight or flight” response that can only be released by screaming or running away. Cardiologist Howard Bush says, “It’s survival.”
Daniela Lamas writes in the Miami Herald that it might actually be possible to be scared to death. A genetic disorder that affects the heart’s rhythm, long QT syndrome, can cause the heart to go into spasms following physical exercise, intense emotion, or a startling noise. But in general, it’s not a single scary moment that kills people, it’s a long history of disease.