Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Taser shock knocks man's heart into rhythm

A MAN'S irregular heartbeat returned to normal after he was shot with a Taser gun in a hospital emergency room, according to a medical report.

The man had been taken to hospital experiencing atrial fibrillation after jumping into an icy lake while trying to escape police in April.

"I don't know exactly what he had done but he fled capture from them and he hid in a lake," said Dr Kyle Richards, a cardiologist at Hartford Hospital in Connecticut.

After treatment, the patient was eager to leave and became aggressive.

"He got very combative and started yelling in my face and that's when I left the room and got security," Dr Richards said.

Police and security used a Taser stun gun, which shoots out a lead connected to two barbs that can deliver up to 50,000 volts, to subdue the man.

They used a low-voltage charge meant to cause pain rather than a longer, higher-voltage jolt meant to incapacitate.

The patient calmed down and another electrocardiogram showed his heart rhythm was normal.

Dr Richards and others said the incident was evidence that the stun guns may affect the heart, as critics allege.

"This is the first report of a patient receiving a shock of this kind and having a positive outcome," he said in the Annals of Emergency Medicine.

Amnesty International claims that since 2001 more than 290 people have died in the US and Canada in incidents involving the weapon. Taser International says there is no evidence the gun directly caused the deaths.

Dr Richards said studies done in pigs show the weapon can affect the heart muscle.

This case provided a controlled situation, with almost continuous monitoring of the patient's heart.

Dr Richards noted that the patient was not hooked up to the electrocardiogram at the precise moment of being shocked.

"People can spontaneously go from atrial fibrillation into a normal rhythm without any intervention at all. You cannot conclusively say that the Taser did it," he said.

But Dr Richards said he believed the weapon was responsible.

"It's just one more thing that says, hey, Tasers can actually affect the heart."


Latest Posts

Latest Comments