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Although far less lethal than guns, conducted electrical weapons (a.k.a. stun guns) still pose the risk of cardiac arrest occurring after someone has been incapacitated. To help minimize the risk of that happening, researchers have successfully customized a stun gun to also monitor the target’s heart rate at the same time.

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While rarely immediately lethal, the massive electrical shocks delivered by the devices have been known to cause heart rate rhythm disturbances which can lead to medical emergencies like cardiac arrest afterwards. And if medical assistance isn’t provided in time, the complications can be fatal.

To combat this, the prototype device, which was created by researchers at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center, takes advantage of the metal probes that are used to deliver the actual shock to a target’s skin. Functionally, they work very similar to the probes used by doctors to capture a patient’s electrocardiogram, or heart rate.

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The medical center’s team successfully modified the standard stun gun cartridges used by law enforcement across the country to also transmit electrocardiogram signals that could be detected by an EKG recorder attached to the weapon. The results are a stun gun that can still deliver an incapacitating charge, but at the same time monitors the target’s heart and EKG for signs of unusual cardiac activity or other medical complications that could need immediate medical attention. This then gives law enforcement more time to call an ambulance or other medical assistance and helps make stun guns genuinely non-lethal.

[Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center via Gizmag]