Physical effects of haunted houses

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By: Charlene Cristobal | WCTV Eyewitness News
October 31, 2017

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) -- If trick or treating doesn’t interest you anymore, maybe haunted houses are more your style. But, have you ever wondered what happens to your body when you get scared?

Haunted houses are filled with plenty of terrorizing surprises bound to send you running for your life. It's a journey not for the faint of heart; walking through the dark with no idea what’s around the corner.

However, many are unaware that this experience can do a lot more than get your adrenaline pumping. A haunted house can affect your heart in more ways than you might think.

To show this, doctors from Tallahassee Memorial Healthcare attached a heart rate monitor to someone brave enough to go through the “Terror of Tallahassee”.

As Dr. Joe Mazziotta explained, “His base line heart rate was in the 80’s, and at times throughout the walk of the haunted house, his heart rate went up into the 130’s.”

Mazziotta says that response is normal when we get spooked, and when you’re in a dark environment, your body also triggers its ‘fight or flight’ response.

“You can expect your blood pressure to go up, as well as your heart rate. And that’s your body’s attempt to send blood to the important things to get you out of the situation – such as your muscles, brain, and vision so that you can make it through this scary situation,” Mazziotta continued.

Daniel Campbell, a haunted house survivor, said, “I could definitely tell my heartbeat was raising. I could actually tell on my monitor that it was getting higher. And I could definitely feel my anxiety and stress – my muscles tensing up and stuff like that. It was a lot of fun.”

Although haunted houses may seem like fun and games, doctors advise that they can take a toll on your body.

Mazziotta concluded, “I think a massage would be very good,” after an experience like that.

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