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Electrical Stun Gun and Modern Implantable Cardiac Stimulators

Mattei, Eugenio; Censi, Federica; Calcagnini, Giovanni1

doi: 10.1097/HP.0000000000000942

The aim of the study is to investigate systematically the possible interactions between two types of stun guns and last-generation pacemakers and implantable defibrillators. Experimental measurements were performed on pacemakers and implantable defibrillators from five leading manufacturers, considering the effect of stun gun dart positioning, sensing modality, stun gun shock duration, and defibrillation energy level. More than 300 measurements were collected. No damage or permanent malfunction was observed in either pacemakers or implantable defibrillators. During the stun gun shock, most of the pacemakers entered into the noise reversion mode. However, complete inhibition of the pacing activity was also observed in some of the pacemakers and in all the implantable defibrillators. In implantable defibrillators, standard stun gun shock (duration 5 s) caused the detection of a shockable rhythm and the start of a charging cycle. Prolonged stun gun shocks (10–15 s) triggered the inappropriate delivery of defibrillation therapy in all the implantable defibrillators tested. Also in this case, no damage or permanent malfunction was observed. For pacemakers, in most cases, the stun guns caused them either to switch to the noise reversion mode or to exhibit partial or total pacing inhibition. For implantable defibrillators, in all cases, the stun guns triggered a ventricular fibrillation event detection. No risks resulted when the stun gun was used by a person wearing a pacemaker or an implantable defibrillator. This work provides novel and up-to-date evidence useful for the evaluation of risks to pacemaker/implantable defibrillator wearers due to stun guns.

1Italian National Institute of Health, Rome, Italy.

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.

For correspondence contact Eugenio Mattei, Italian National Institute of Health, Viale Regina Elena 299, 00161, Rome, Italy, or email at

(Manuscript accepted 25 June 2018)

© 2019 by the Health Physics Society