A grim new study found that children with rare, pre-existing heart conditions can develop serious — and even fatal — heart disease as a result of playing video games.
Published in the magazine Heartbeat and conducted by an international team of researchers, the study examined 22 cases in which children between the ages of seven and 16 with heart disease experienced an irregular heartbeat and subsequent loss of consciousness while gaming.
Of those 22 children, six went into complete cardiac arrest and four died tragically.
While that doesn’t mean parents should ditch their kids’ Xbox, the research shows that those raising kids with rare heart conditions should exercise caution.
It’s also important to note that the sample size is also extremely limited, meaning the results should be taken with a grain of salt.
“This is a relatively small study,” Shubhyan Sanatani, chief of cardiology at British Columbia Children’s Hospital and co-author of the study, told Canadian broadcaster CTV News“but we still found some cases where kids who were actively playing video games had very serious heart disease.”
The researchers reported that war games proved to be particularly dangerous. Although, as they have explained, CTV Newsmore research needs to be done to determine which specific titles this cohort of children should stay away from.
The doctors behind the study argue that this doesn’t have to be a top priority for every parent. These circumstances, as Sanatani proceeded to the outlet, are “fortunately rare.”
But as the study highlights, gaming isn’t something parents of affected children have had to worry about in the past — and maybe it’s time to change that.
“While competitive sports and certain high-risk activities are known to accelerate arrhythmic events in susceptible individuals,” the study reads, “electronic gaming is typically not included in the counseling offered to families with a pro-arrhythmic diagnosis.”
The study is quite small, but it shows that making small behavioral adjustments can save lives in these rare cases.
READ MORE: Video games may cause cardiac arrest in susceptible children, study finds [CTV News Vancouver]
More on heart health: Scientists propose editing human genetic code to prevent heart attacks