Cardiac stimulation with high voltage discharge from stun guns

Nanthakumar, Kumaraswamy; Massé, Stephane; Umapathy, Karthikeyan; Dorian, Paul; Sevaptsidis, Elias; Waxman, Menashe
May 2008
CMAJ: Canadian Medical Association Journal;5/20/2008, Vol. 178 Issue 11, p1451
Academic Journal
The ability of an electrical discharge to stimulate the heart depends on the duration of the pulse, the voltage and the current density that reaches the heart. Stun guns deliver very short electrical pulses with minimal amount of current at high voltages. We discuss external stimulation of the heart by high voltage discharges and review studies that have evaluated the potential of stun guns to stimulate cardiac muscle. Despite theoretical analyses and animal studies which suggest that stun guns cannot and do not affect the heart, 3 independent investigators have shown cardiac stimulation by stun guns. Additional research studies involving people are needed to resolve the conflicting theoretical and experimental findings and to aid in the design of stun guns that are unable to stimulate the heart.


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