Study Shows a Potential Link Between Electronic Games and Dangerous, Even Deadly, Arrhythmias.
We’ve come across a study published this month that discusses an as-of-yet unstudied phenomenon of the potential for dangerous or even deadly arrhythmias in young people associated with electronic games. We’ve previously known that young athletes with congenital heart disorders are at greater risk for arrhythmia during intense physical exertion. This is not surprising as exercise can increase the heart rate dramatically. However, the bigger surprise was that sedentary electronic gaming could also trigger these dangerous arrhythmias leading to unexplained syncope – fainting – and even death in some kids. It’s not hard to understand why this could be the case. Certain games, primarily the very popular first-person, war, adventure, and shooter games, can raise the heart rate dramatically.
Combine this added strain on a heart with previously diagnosed congenital catecholaminergic polymorphic ventricular tachycardia, long QT syndrome, or prior congenital heart surgery (all conditions most kids in the study had suffered from), and you have the potential for severe and life-threatening concern. That said, 14% of the children studied, including two deaths, had no known diagnosis.
Should You, as a Parent, Be Worried?
It is essential that you know about this research, but there is little reason to worry. First, it’s not practical nor appropriate to screen every child for every possible heart defect. As such, we must keep our eyes open for the signs of heart issues like the one we are discussing today. Further, having this information can help parents find the right specialist if these signs should manifest while their child is playing games. It is worth noting that most children had underlying congenital heart defects that likely contributed to these dangerous arrhythmias. Therefore, parents of kids with these disorders should speak to their electrophysiologist or cardiologist about this research.
Most importantly, our advice to anyone reading this blog is that arrhythmias can affect anyone of any race or age. So, to learn more about the next steps, we encourage you to contact Dr. Moretta.
- Lawley, C.M., et al. (2022) Life-threatening cardiac arrhythmia and sudden death during electronic gaming: An international case series and systematic review. Heart Rhythm. doi.org/10.1016/j.hrthm.2022.08.003.