According to Dr Claire Asher,
it’s very much possible to die of laughter – though cases are rare and thought to center around a fit of laughter triggering a heart attack or suffocation.
Bill Oddie’s 70s comedy show
The Goodies triggered one such death
when UK resident Alex Mitchell experienced a fatal heart attack after a hearty 30 minutes of laughing. Doctors later diagnosed Mitchell’s daughter with Long QT Syndrome, which they believe could have caused his death.
In what’s arguably a less fun way to go, Australian resident
Arthur Cobcroft chuckled himself to death while comparing the prices of commodities in 1915 to those in 1920 , his year of death. He was considered to have died of heart failure brought on by excessive laughing by doctors, a bleak indictment on inflation.
In the 2019 filmJoker, Joaquin Phoenix took inspiration from the pseudobulbar affect for his role of Arthur Fleck who’s prone to bouts of pathological laughter. The pseudobulbar affect is a clinical diagnosis characterized by episodes of extreme and uncontrollable emotion such as laughing or crying.
The condition is associated with brain dysfunction and certain neurodegenerative disorders, and while it can significantly impair a person’s social life or ability to work, it’s not usually considered hazardous to health. However, the associated symptoms of an exaggerated gag reflex, tongue weakness, and swallowing difficulties could increase a person’s chances of suffocating during a fit of laughter.