Gaming ‘can be DEADLY for children’: Action-packed missions might kick-start life-threatening arrhythmias in kids with undiagnosed heart issues, study suggests
- The researchers were from The Heart Centre for Children, Sydney, Australia
- They studied 22 children who lost consciousness while playing video games
- Experts said adrenalin surges from the excitement of playing can prove lethal
They’re popular for getting adrenaline pumping, while carrying none of the risk of war.
But playing action-packed games like Call of Duty can be deadly for children with heart conditions, scientists warn.
Electronic gaming can kick-start life-threatening cardiac arrhythmias in children with no history of health problems, a landmark study has found.
Experts said adrenalin surges from the excitement of playing can prove lethal to some youngsters with often-undiagnosed heart problems.
Electronic gaming can kick-start life-threatening cardiac arrhythmias in children with no history of health problems, a landmark study has found
Researchers from The Heart Centre for Children, Sydney, Australia, studied the cases of 22 children who suffered with sudden loss of consciousness while playing video games.
They found multiplayer war gaming was the most frequent trigger, resulting in an ’emotionally charged’ state amongst players.
Some children having died following a cardiac arrest with several heart rhythm conditions later diagnosed, putting the surviving children at continued risk if they kept playing.
Claire Lawley, of The Heart Centre for Children, who led the study urged parents to look for any warning signs, such as blackouts when gaming.
She said: ‘Video games may represent a serious risk to some children with arrhythmic conditions; they might be lethal in patients with predisposing, but often previously unrecognized arrhythmic conditions.
‘Children who suddenly lose consciousness while electronic gaming should be assessed by a heart specialist as this could be the first sign of a serious heart problem.’
Catecholaminergic polymorphic ventricular tachycardia (CPVT) a rare inherited heart rhythm disturbance found in young people and children, was one of the most common causes.
Adrenaline from strenuous physical activity and heightened emotions, such as gaming, can lead to blackouts, palpitations and dizziness.
Long QT syndrome (LQTS) is a rare inherited condition that affects around one in 2,000 people and that can cause abnormal heart rhythms, was another.
Researchers found most children (63 per cent) had potentially relevant genetic variants among the patients, with significant implications for their families.
In some cases, the discovery led to multiple family members being diagnosed with an important familial heart rhythm problem, according to the findings published in the journal Heart Rhythm.
Scientists believe the adrenergic stimulation related to the ’emotionally charged electronic gaming environment’ was behind the phenomenon.
At the time of the cardiac incidents, many of the patients were in excited states, having just won or lost games, or were engaging in conflict with companions.
While it is not a common occurrence, the authors believe it is becoming more prevalent as gaming culture is increasingly popular.
Christian Turner, who co-wrote the study, said gaming could no longer be viewed as a ‘safe activity’ for those carrying these risks.
‘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,’ he said.
‘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.’