Electronic Gaming is a Trigger of Heart Rhythm Problems in Susceptible Kids

electronic gaming

Life-threatening cardiac arrhythmias can be precipitated through electronic gaming in susceptible children. Especially those whose predisposition may not have been recognized previously based on the report in Heart Rhythm. An uncommon yet distinct pattern was documented among children who become unconscious while playing video games.

The lead investigator Claire M. Lawley, MBBS, PhD explained,

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.

Identification of Unconsciousness During Electronic Gaming

A systematic review was done by the investigators. Initiating a multisite international outreach effort for the identification of cases of children with sudden unconsciousness during electronic gaming.

They found that war games were the biggest trigger among the twenty-two cases they studied. Furthermore, some of the kids died after cardiac arrest. Additionally, the diagnosis of several conditions linked with heart rhythm put the kids at continuous risk.

The most common underlying causes were CPVT (Catecholaminergic polymorphic ventricular tachycardia) and LQTS (congenital long QT syndrome) types 1 and 2.

Moreover, a high prevalence of 68% was seen in the incidence of relative genetic variants in patients with significant familial implications. Additionally, in some cases where children lost consciousness during video games had a family history of heart rhythm problems.

Dr. Lawley said,

Families and health care teams should think about safety precautions around electronic gaming in children who have a condition where dangerous fast heart rhythms are a risk,

Adrenergic stimulation was seen, and it was linked with the electronic gaming environment. Posing it to be a pathophysiological basis of the phenomenon. Furthermore, electronic gaming is not a safe alternative to outdoor sports and many of the patients were in excited states during the cardiac incidents. It was either because they lost the game, won, or engaged in conflicts during the game.

Co-investigator Christian Turner added,

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,

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.

Co-investigator of the study Jonathan Skinner further said that though this phenomenon isn’t common, it is prevalent.

Having looked after children with heart rhythm problems for more than 25 years, I was staggered to see how widespread this emerging presentation is, and to find that a number of children had even died from it. All of the collaborators are keen to publicize this phenomenon so our colleagues across the globe can recognize it and protect these children and their families,


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