Medicine: Frightened to Death

Doctors have long believed that there is basis in fact for the old tag: so-and-so was "frightened to death." But they had little idea just how it might come about, i.e., how the emotion of fear could make the heart stop beating—victims of heart trouble are not likely to be sitting in a doctor's office having an electrocardiogram taken when they suffer a fatal fright. Now some of the missing evidence is in.

The 29-year-old woman who went to Boston's Peter Bent Brigham Hospital complaining of palpitations and a "smothering sensation" had nothing wrong...

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