Put away that Ouja board — no, seriously, put it away, those things are stupid — because according to science, you can literally be scared to death. Eggheads call the phenomenon “stress cardiomyopathy,” and it occurs when the brain releases a tsunami of stress hormones, including adrenaline, which end up stopping your heart. Symptoms like sweating and shortness of breath are similar to those of a heart attack, but it’s not actually a heart attack. The scared-to-death phenomenon typically occurs after an upsetting emotional event, like when someone receives news of a loved one’s death. But that doesn’t mean it couldn’t occur this Halloween when you’re at a haunted house … or when you’re at a costume party and discover the Marilyn Monroe you’ve been making out with is actually more of a Marty Monroe.
That said, your odds of being scared to death are pretty low. According to researchers, older women account for more than 90 percent of reported cases of stress cardiomyopathy. More good news: The condition isn’t always fatal. Even more good news: It really does take a significant jolt to make you croak. So feel free to watch Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan as many times as you can stomach.