High g-Force Rollercoaster Rides Induce Sinus Tachycardia but No Cardiac Arrhythmias in Healthy Children
© The Author(s) 2016. Open Access. This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made.
Theme park operators and medical professionals advise children with heart conditions against using rollercoaster rides, but these recommendations are not evidence-based. The underlying assumption is that the combination of adrenergic stimulation through stress and acceleration might trigger arrhythmias in susceptible individuals. We conducted a cross-sectional observational study to assess heart rate and rhythm in healthy children during commercial rollercoaster rides. Twenty healthy children (9 male) aged 11-15 (mean 13.3 ± 1.4) years underwent continuous heart rate and rhythm monitoring (2-lead ECG) from 5 min before until 10 min after each of 4 high speed (>50 km h(-1)), high g-force (>4) commercial rollercoaster rides. Total recording time was 13 h 20 min. No arrhythmic events were detected. Resting heart rate was 81 ± 10 b min(-1) and increased to 158 ± 20 b·min(-1) during rides. The highest mean HR (165 ± 23 b min(-1)) was observed on the ride with the lowest g-force (4.5 g), but one of the highest speeds (100 km h(-1)). Anticipatory tachycardia (126 ± 15 b min(-1)) within 5 min was frequently observed. A 10 min recovery HR (124 ± 17 b min(-1)) was 56 % greater than resting HR. The speed and g-force experienced on roller coasters induce sinus tachycardia but do not elicit pathological arrhythmias in healthy children.
This work was supported by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Biomedical Research Unit in Cardiovascular Disease at the University Hospitals Bristol NHS Foundation Trust and the University of Bristol. Dr Pieles is the holder of an NIHR Academic Clinical Lectureship in Paediatric Cardiology. We would like to thank Novacor Ltd (Swanley, Kent, UK) for providing portable ECG monitoring equipment and Thorpe Park (Merlin Entertainments PLC, Poole, Dorset, UK) for their support during data acquisition. We thank all of the children and their families for participating in this study.
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Published Online: 21 September 2016