Predisposed children can develop life-threatening heart rhythm problems from video games

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  • Electronic games can cause life-threatening arrhythmias in vulnerable children with previously unrecognized predispositions. Investigators documented an unusual but distinct pattern of children losing consciousness while playing electronic (video) games. “Video games may pose a serious risk to some children with arrhythmias. Lead Investigator Claire M. Lawley, MBBS, Ph.D., The Heart Center for Children, Sydney Children’s Hospitals Network, Sydney , Australia) stated: “A child who suddenly loses consciousness while playing an electronic game should be consulted by a cardiologist as this may be the first sign of a serious heart problem. It needs to be evaluated.”

Investigators conducted a systematic literature review and initiated international outreach at multiple sites to identify cases of children who suddenly lost consciousness while playing video games. Multiplayer wargames were the most common trigger in the 22 cases found. Some children have died after cardiac arrest. Subsequent diagnosis of multiple cardiac arrhythmias puts children at continued risk.

Catecholaminergic polymorphic ventricular tachycardia (CPVT) and congenital long QT syndrome (LQTS) types 1 and 2 were the most common underlying causes. There was a high incidence of potentially associated genetic mutations among patients (63%), with significant impact on their families. In some cases, assessments of children who have lost consciousness while playing video games have led many families to diagnose significant familial heart rhythm problems. Consideration should be given to safety measures associated with electronic games for children with conditions that endanger fast heart rhythms.

The researchers cited adrenergic stimulation associated with emotionally charged electronic gaming environments as the pathophysiological basis for this phenomenon. Electronic gambling is not always, and is often assumed to be, a “safe alternative” to competitive sports. When a heart attack occurs, many patients are in a state of agitation, winning or losing games, or clashing with peers. MBBS collaborator Christian Turner said: “We already know there are children with heart problems that may be at risk during competition, but playing video games I was shocked to learn that some patients have had life-threatening fainting.The Children’s Heart Center, Sydney Children’s Hospitals Network, Sydney, Australia.

The study points out that this phenomenon is not a common occurrence. “Having cared for children with arrhythmias for over 25 years, I was amazed to see how prevalent this new condition was and to discover that many children were dying from it. All staff. is keen to publicize this phenomenon so that our colleagues around the world are aware of it and can protect these children and their families,” said study co-investigator MBChB, Sydney. said Jonathan Skinner, MD.

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