Can video games trigger life-threatening cardiac arrhythmias in children?

A new research examines how video games can affect children with unrecognized cardiac arrhythmic conditions.

 THE IESF World Championships is comparable to the World Cup of gaming.  (photo credit: IESA)
THE IESF World Championships is comparable to the World Cup of gaming.
(photo credit: IESA)

Video games can precipitate life-threatening cardiac arrhythmias in susceptible children, according to recent research published in the medical journal Heart Rhythm.

The susceptible children are those who suffer from undiagnosed cardiac arrhythmic conditions. 

The researchers have reviewed academic literature and identified cases of children who experienced a sudden loss of consciousness while playing video games.

The researchers were able to find 22 cases of children who suffered from a sudden loss of consciousness. Of those 22 patients, six suffered a cardiac arrest, and 4 have died. 

The researchers explained this reaction as a result of an emotionally charged electronic gaming environment.

  (credit: INGIMAGE) (credit: INGIMAGE)

The researchers comments

Christian Turner, one of the researchers said to News Medical: "We already know that some children have heart conditions that can put them at risk when playing competitive sports, but we were shocked to discover that some patients were having life-threatening blackouts during video gaming.

"Video gaming was something I previously thought would be an alternative 'safe activity.' This is a really important discovery. We need to ensure everyone knows how important it is to get checked out when someone has had a blacking-out episode in these circumstances," he added.

The study warns that although this phenomenon is not common, it might become more prevalent in the future.

Jonathan Skinner, one of the researchers, said to News Medical: "Having looked after children with heart rhythm problems for more than 25 years, I was staggered to see how widespread this emerging presentation is, and to find that a number of children had even died from it.

"I was staggered to see how widespread this emerging presentation is, and to find that a number of children had even died from it"

Jonathan Skinner

"All of the collaborators are keen to publicize this phenomenon so our colleagues across the globe can recognize it and protect these children and their families," he added.