Conducted Electrical Weapons and Implantable Cardiac Devices

  • Subba Reddy Vanga
  • James L. Vacek
  • Loren Berenbom
  • Dhanunjaya R. Lakkireddy

The cardiac effects of conducted electrical weapons (CEWs) have been a subject of debate for several years with concerns regarding their safety, particularly in patients with active disease processes (such as coronary artery disease or cardiomyopathy) or altered physiologic states such as acidosis or hyperadrenergic conditions [1]. In the past 3–5 years, a large body of animal and human data has clearly established the overall safety of these devices. A recent study by McDaniel et al demonstrated that CEWs did not cause cardiac arrhythmias within the limits of the standard electrical discharge in a porcine model [2]. In the same study, multiple applications of the TASER CEW electrical discharge were reported as safe. Another animal study has shown a high safety margin for ventricular fibrillation (VF) induction by CEWs [3]. A recent publication suggested that despite a low probability of VF induction, TASER X26 current application, close to the heart, had a higher rate of myocardial capture and induced VF on one occasion with epinephrine administration [4]. (This possible effect of epinephrine induction facilitation was not statistically significant.) Another recent study involving healthy human volunteers at rest has demonstrated the general cardiac safety of a TASER X26 application and indicated that there was no significant effect on the electrocardiogram over a 24-hour period [5].


Ventricular Fibrillation Sick Sinus Syndrome Epinephrine Administration Hyperadrenergic Condition Electrical Artifact 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


  1. 1.
    Strote J, Hutson HR. Taser Use in Restraint-Related Deaths. Prehospital Emergency Care. 2006;10(4):447–450.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. 2.
    McDaniel WC, Stratbucker RA, Nerheim M, Brewer JE. Cardiac safety of neuromuscular incapacitating defensive devices. Pacing Clin Electrophysiol. 2005 Jan;28 Suppl 1:S284–S287.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. 3.
    Lakkireddy D, Wallick D, Ryschon K, Chung MK, Butany J, Martin D, et al. Effects of cocaine intoxication on the threshold for stun gun induction of ventricular fibrillation. J Am College Cardiol. 2006 Aug 15;48(4):805–811.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. 4.
    Nanthakumar K, Billingsley IM, Masse S, Dorian P, Cameron D, Chauhan VS, et al. Cardiac electrophysiological consequences of neuromuscular incapacitating device discharges. J Am College Cardiol. 2006 Aug 15;48(4):798–804.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. 5.
    Ho JD, Miner JR, Lakireddy DR, Bultman LL, Heegaard WG. Cardiovascular and physiologic effects of conducted electrical weapon discharge in resting adults. Acad Emerg Med. 2006 Jun;13(6):589–595.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. 6.
    Hayes DL, Christiansen J. Electromagnetic interference with implantable devices. In: Ellenbogen KA, Wilkoff BL, ed. Clinical Cardiac Pacing and Defibrillation. 2nd ed. Philadelphia: WB Saunders Company 2000:939–952.Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    Hayes DL, Vlietstra RE. Pacemaker malfunction. Annals of Internal Medicine. 1993 Oct 15;119(8):828–835.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  8. 8.
    Barold SS FM, Ong LS, Heinle RA. Interference in cardiac pacemakers: Exogenous sources. In: El-Sherif N, ed. Cardiac Pacing and Electrophysiology. 3rd ed. Philadelphia: WB Saunders Company 1991:608–633.Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    Belott PH, Sands S, Warren J. Resetting of DDD pacemakers due to EMI. Pacing Clin Electrophysiol. 1984 Mar;7(2):169–172.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. 10.
    Irnich W. Interference in pacemakers. Pacing Clin Electrophysiol. 1984 Nov;7(6 Pt 1):1021–1048.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. 11.
    Levine PA, Barold SS, Fletcher RD, Talbot P. Adverse acute and chronic effects of electrical defibrillation and cardioversion on implanted unipolar cardiac pacing systems. J Am College Cardiol. 1983 Jun;1(6):1413–1422.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. 12.
    Toivonen L, Valjus J, Hongisto M, Metso R. The influence of elevated 50 Hz electric and magnetic fields on implanted cardiac pacemakers: the role of the lead configuration and programming of the sensitivity. Pacing Clin Electrophysiol. 1991 Dec;14(12):2114–2122.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. 13.
    Yee R, Jones DL, Klein GJ. Pacing threshold changes after transvenous catheter countershock. Am J Cardiol. 1984 Feb 1;53(4):503–507.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. 14.
    Calton R, Cameron D, Masse S, Nanthakumar K. Images in cardiovascular medicine. Duration of discharge of neuromuscular incapacitating device and inappropriate implantable cardioverter-defibrillator detections. Circulation. 2007 May 22;115(20):e472–e474.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. 15.
    Haegeli LM, Sterns LD, Adam DC, Leather RA. Effect of a Taser shot to the chest of a patient with an implantable defibrillator. Heart Rhythm. 2006 Mar;3(3):339–341.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. 16.
    Cao M, Shinbane JS, Gillberg JM, Saxon LA. Taser-induced rapid ventricular myocardial capture demonstrated by pacemaker intracardiac electrograms. J Cardiovascular Electrophysiology. 2007 Aug;18(8):876–879.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. 17.
    Lakkireddy D, Biria M, Baryun E, Berenbom L, Pimentel R, Emert M, Kreighbaum K, Kroll M, Verma A. Can Electrical-Conductive Weapons (TASER®) alter the functional integrity of pacemakers and defibrillators and cause rapid myocardial capture? Heart Rhythm. 2008;5:S97.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Subba Reddy Vanga
  • James L. Vacek
  • Loren Berenbom
  • Dhanunjaya R. Lakkireddy
    • 1
  1. 1.Clinical Assistant Professor and Staff ElectrophysiologistMid America Cardiology, University of Kansas HospitalsKansas CityUSA

Personalised recommendations