Fear and Myofibrillar Degeneration
Acute stress can provoke changes in the heart that may lead to death, say Drs. Marilyn S. Cebelin of Cleveland and Charles S. Hirsch of Cincinnati. The two doctors recently identified 15 cases in which people died after a physical assault, although the injuries alone would not have been enough to kill them. Eleven of the 15 cases showed a type of heart-cell death called myofibrillar degeneration, similar to a reaction in experimental animals who are helpless to anticipate or avoid danger.