LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – From scary movies to haunted houses, some Halloween traditions are not for the faint of heart. The Arkansas Heart Hospital is warning about the impacts fear can take on your body.
From the creepy hallways of anticipation to the moment nightmares come to life, haunted houses are sure to get your blood to run cold. These bumps in the night can also impact the pumps in your heart.
“It can either cause your heart rate to go up or it can cause it to go down suddenly,” Arkansas Heart Hospital Cardiologist Dr. Patrick Flaherty said.
Dr. Flaherty said haunted houses trigger your fight or in my case flight response.
“If you have pre-existing issues, underlying coronary artery disease, heart failure problems, prior atrial fibrillation or any of the other different arrythmias, those can be problems,” Dr. Flaherty said. “Those that have defibrillators in place you know might want to think twice about it.”
During Claire Kreuz’s stay at the Haunted Hotel of Arkansas she wore a heart monitor allowing Dr. Flaherty to track her heart rate in real time.
“So, your baseline heart rate was 92 beats a minute when you first put the monitor on yesterday,” Dr. Flaherty said.
No surprise, once she started walking through, that baseline quickly shot through the roof.
“6:25, 6:26, 6:27 around the time you were getting chased by chainsaws your heart rate went up to a maximum of 154,” Dr. Flaherty said.
A few minutes later, he said it started to slow back down again about the time she finished the segment.
“I don’t know what you were doing 20 minutes later but that whole cycle started up again,” Dr. Flaherty said.
The same trend continued throughout the morning.
“A true arrythmia you would see it come on suddenly and it might persist for a while even after you recovered from the fright,” Dr. Flaherty said.
For most people, Dr. Flaherty said haunted houses are nothing to be scared of.
“For the vast majority of the people out there it’s not going to be an issue,” Dr. Flaherty said.
He said just listen to your body. If you start feeling lightheaded or dizzy sit down, take a few deep breaths or get out if you need to
“Usually getting out of the environment is going to take care of the situation,” Dr. Flaherty said.
Dr. Flaherty said things like blood pressure medications, pregnancy and even alcohol use can also impact how you handle haunted houses. He said to just beware before you enter.