Nine-year-old boy's heart STOPPED after he took a bite of a hot dog

September 7, 2017  22:14

A nine-year-old boy had a heart attack after one bite of a hot dog.

After swallowing a mouthful of sausage and bread, the Turkish child's heart stopped.

The boy was rushed to a local hospital where he was resuscitated and diagnosed with Brugada syndrome, a rare condition that can put pressure on the nerve that links the abdomen and the thorax.

Normally, the illness only triggers such a life-threatening physical response in heavy alcohol drinkers.

But this case, reported today in the journal Pediatrics, has been tipped as an example of rare and unexpected ways the condition can be perilous. 

Since the condition is so rare, experts warn all medical centers should test children for Brugada if they have a cardiac arrest after eating food.  

Brugada is a genetic condition affecting one in 10,000 people, which can cause abnormal heart rhythms.

These can lead to ventricular fibrillation, a series of rapid heart contractions that causes the pumping chambers to quiver uselessly instead of pumping blood. This can cause a fatal cardiac arrest. 

Symptoms of Brugada include exercise-related chest pain, breathlessness, palpitations, dizziness or fainting. But 80 percent of the 600 young people who die suddenly each year experienced none of these - or so mildly that they dismissed them. 

Writing in Pediatrics, the team of doctors in Istanbul said: 'Vagal stimulus-dependent SCA after eating a large bite of food may be the first symptom of BS. 

'For this reason, the electrocardiographic results of the children who had a cardiac arrest after eating a large meal with big bites should be evaluated in detail.'

Around 70,000 people die each year from cardiac arrests, due to different heart conditions. 

Many people with abnormal heart rhythms receive implantable cardioverter defibrillators (ICDs). These monitor the heart's rhythm and send out electrical shocks to restore it if it becomes too fast and erratic.

Some ICDs also contain a pacemaker, which stimulates the heart with a small electrical pulse to keep it beating regularly.

Traditionally, the ICD is fitted under the skin, close to the collarbone. 

It comprises a tiny battery-powered generator with one or two leads. 

One lead goes into an atrium (one of the two upper heart chambers) for monitoring the heart, and for pacing if needed; the other goes into a ventricle (lower pumping chamber) to deliver an electric shock if required. 

Follow Medicine on Facebook and Twitter


  • Video
  • Event calendar
  • Archive