A new review led by an Indian-origin scientist has revealed that stun guns not only affect skeletal muscles, but may also stimulate the heart.
The review of scientific data led by Dr. Nanthakumar and colleagues has revealed that stun guns could stimulate the heart in experimental models.
"The frequency and the shape of the pulses generated by stun guns are designed to incapacitate the target by electrically overwhelming his or her control of these muscles," said the researchers.
"In principle, these pulses are designed to act only on skeletal muscles and to not affect internal organs such as the heart. The evidence that stun guns do not stimulate the heart is based on...theoretical studies [that] suggest that stun guns cannot deliver the amount of energy required to stimulate the heart or cause ventricular fibrillation," he added.
The studies conducted over pigs by 3 independent groups of investigators confirmed that "a stun gun discharge can stimulate the heart" depending on the location of the stun gun barbs.
In one study, swine blood pressure was abruptly lost after discharge of a stun gun, and another study "reported the deaths of 2 animals caused by ventricular fibrillation immediately after the stun gun discharge....This suggests that sufficient current density was produced by the stun gun to stimulate the heart, which according to theory should not and could not occur."
However, the researchers warn against applying data from pigs to humans, although "most of the basic mechanistic concepts in cardiac fibrillation and defibrillation are derived from animal studies, not humans."
The review appears in Canadian Medical Association Journal.