By Dennis Thompson
WEDNESDAY, Sept. 18, 2019 (HealthDay News) — Video games that guarantee heart-stopping action might come dangerously close to fulfilling that promise in some players.
A handful of video gamers have passed out when intense sessions caused their heartbeat to lapse into an irregular rhythm known as an arrhythmia, researchers report.
Three boys between the ages of 10 and 15 separately lost consciousness when the action in a war video game grew to a fever pitch, the research team noted in a letter published Sept. 19 in the New England Journal of Medicine.
“Heart rhythm recordings either at the time or subsequently revealed that they had suffered a life-threatening heart rhythm disturbance — a form of ventricular tachycardia, in essence a near cardiac arrest,” said senior researcher Dr. Christian Turner. He is a pediatric cardiologist with the Children’s Hospital at Westmead in Australia.
Each of the boys were found to have rare and very serious underlying heart abnormalities, either due to the structure or the electrical function of their heart muscle, the researchers said.
This was a surprise for two of the boys, as they’d never been diagnosed with a heart problem, Turner said.
These cases show that video games can produce the same sort of adrenaline rush that can cause athletes and people under extreme duress to die when their hearts stop, said Dr. Ranjit Suri, a cardiac electrophysiologist at Mount Sinai St. Luke’s in New York City.