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Modern Roller Coasters Can Cause Heart Arrhythmias

Study of healthy subjects links ride with elevated heart rates and benign arrhythmias

TUESDAY, Aug. 14 (HealthDay News) -- Modern roller coasters subject riders to physical forces that can significantly elevate heart rates and cause arrhythmias, according to a research letter published in the Aug. 15 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Juergen Kuschyk, M.D., of the University of Heidelberg in Heidelberg, Germany, and colleagues recruited 55 healthy adult volunteers who wore Holter monitors for at least five minutes before and after going on a 120-second ride on the Expedition GeForce in Hassloch, Germany, which reaches speeds of up to 120 kilometers per hour.

The researchers found that the subjects' mean heart rate increased from 89 beats per minute before the ride to 155 beats per minute during the ride, before decreasing to 109 beats per minute at the end of the ride. Twenty-four of the subjects (44 percent) experienced asymptomatic sinus arrhythmias. They identified one subject who had a four-second, self-terminating episode of atrial fibrillation associated with a heart rate of 140 beats per minute immediately after the ride, and another subject who had an asymptomatic episode of non-sustained (3 complex) ventricular tachycardia shortly after the initial ascent.

"Although the arrhythmias observed in our study of healthy individuals were benign, the magnitude of increase in heart rate raises the possibility of risk for individuals with underlying cardiac disease," the authors conclude.

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