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Stun-Gun Arrhythmias May Be Less Likely in Cocaine Users

Animal study shows that the drug may reduce the risk of shock-induced ventricular fibrillation

MONDAY, May 22 (HealthDay News) -- Contrary to claims that cocaine increases the risk of cardiac arrest in people who receive shocks from an electrical stun gun, the drug may actually be protective against life-threatening arrhythmias that can result from such shocks, according to research in animals presented at Heart Rhythm 2006, the Heart Rhythm Society's 27th Annual Scientific Sessions in Boston.

Dhanunjaya R. Lakkireddy, M.D., of the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio, and colleagues built a device that delivers a neuromuscular-incapacitating discharge identical to the waveform of the TASER X-26 stun gun. Before and after infusing five healthy adult pigs with cocaine, they tested the device on five dart locations: sternal notch to cardiac apex, sternal notch to supra-umbilical, sternal notch to infra-umbilical, side to side on chest, and upper to lower mid-posterior torso.

The researchers found that cocaine increased the ventricular fibrillation threshold of neuromuscular-incapacitating discharges in all dart locations and reduced cardiac vulnerability to ventricular fibrillation by 1.5 to 2.5 times.

"The application of cocaine increased the safety margin by 50 percent to 100 percent above the baseline safety margin," the authors conclude. They added that more research is needed to determine how stun guns affect cocaine users with underlying heart conditions.


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