Skip navigation

Taser Cardiac Monitoring of Subjects Exposed to Taser Academic Emergency Medicine 2005

Download original document:
Brief thumbnail
This text is machine-read, and may contain errors. Check the original document to verify accuracy.

Cardiac Monitoring of Subjects Exposed to the TASER™
Saul D. Levine, Christian Sloane, Theodore Chan, Gary Vilke and James Dunford
University of California, San Diego: San Diego, CA

Background: The TASER is a weapon that delivers high-voltage electricity and is used by
approximately one third of U.S. law enforcement agencies. Although generally regarded as safe,
little research exists in the literature despite reported sudden deaths. To our knowledge, no
prospective human studies on the TASER exist. Objectives: To evaluate for cardiac changes
utilizing monitoring during deployment of the TASER on healthy volunteers. Methods: This
prospective, interventional pilot study was performed with police officers receiving training on
the TASER X-26. The officers, all of whom had already volunteered to be "TASERed," had
continuous 3-lead electrocardiographic (ECG) monitoring immediately before, during, and after
firing of the TASER. The mean duration of ECG tracing after shock was 16.3 seconds. Primary
endpoints included development of changes in cardiac rate and rhythm, morphology, and
intervals. Investigators individually analyzed the tracings. Comparative statistical analysis
utilized paired Student's t-test and 95% confidence intervals (CIs). Results: Data were collected
on 20 subjects. The mean shock duration was 2.4 seconds (range 1.2–5 s). Other than sinus
tachycardia, no dysrhythmias were identified after the TASERings. There was no change in
morphology, QRS duration (range 40–80 msec), or QT interval (range 200–400 msec) between
the before- and after-TASER groups. After the TASERing, there was a 12-msec decrease (95%
CI 6 to 18, p < 0.001) in the mean PR interval from 132 to 120 msec. The mean heart rates before
and after being TASERed were, respectively, 127 (range 80–160) and 142 (range 108–175). The
mean increase in heart rate was 15 beats/min (95% CI 7 to 22; p < 0.001). Conclusions: In this
pilot study we found no significant cardiac dysrhythmias in healthy human subjects immediately
after receiving a TASER shock. In addition, there were no morphologic, rhythm, or interval
changes other than a small decrease in PR interval and an increase in heart rate.