Study objectives: To evaluate the immediate cardiac and cardiovascular effects of Taser X26 conducted electrical weapon (CEW) exposure in human volunteers, including heart rhythm, rate and blood pressure.
Methods: Volunteer police officers participating in CEW training and testing each underwent a 5, 3 and 1 s exposure to the Taser X26 CEW. Continuous electrocardiogram (ECG) monitoring was performed before, during and after each exposure. Blood pressures were measured at rest before and within 1 minute after each exposure. Paired sample t-test analysis and confidence interval calculations were performed.
Results: 84 Taser exposures were monitored among 28 subjects (24 men, four women) with an average age of 34 years (range 24–46, SD 5.6). No cardiac dysrhythmias or aberrantly conducted beats were seen. Mean heart rate increased by 10.9 beats per minute (bpm) (95% CI 8.2 to 13.7) from 121.7 to 132.6 (p<0.001). The QRS and QTc cardiac intervals did not change significantly. Mean blood pressure increased from 138.6/82.8 mm Hg at rest to 145.8/85.6 mm Hg after the standard 5-s CEW discharge.
Conclusion: CEW exposure produced no detectable dysrhythmias and a statistically significant increase in heart rate. Overall, Taser CEW exposure appears to be safe and well tolerated from a cardiovascular standpoint in this population. This study increases the cumulative human subject experience of CEW exposure with continuous ECG monitoring and includes 28 full 5-s exposures.
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Funding: This study was funded in full by the Wake Forest University Department of Emergency Medicine.
Competing interests: None.
Ethics approval: The institutional review board approved the protocol.
Patient consent: Obtained.