How Electric Shocks Damage Your Heart Long-Term
Electrical shock can have a devastating impact on your body. It may cause severe burns, nerve damage, disruption of the central nervous system, heart attacks, and even death.
By disrupting electrical impulses that regulate your heartbeat, electric shock may cause immediate harm, including cardiac arrest. Scientists have also discovered that electric shock contributes to long-term heart problems.
It’s essential for shock victims to continue to receive regular cardiac testing to monitor the condition of their heart. Researchers agree that more study is needed to expand our understanding of this critical health issue.
Short-Term Effects of Electrical Shock
A sudden electric shock is a very serious event that can damage your whole body. It’s especially hazardous for your heart which relies on electrical impulses to maintain regular heartbeats.
Both high-voltage and low-voltage shocks can be fatal. An electric shock generated by a strong current may be devastating, but a milder current may actually be more hazardous to your heart.
A high-voltage shock will probably cause the heart to suddenly clamp down. It can also produce an involuntary muscle contraction that may result in respiratory arrest. In other words, the person stops breathing.
A low-voltage shock may cause rapid irregular contractions of the muscle fibers called fibrillations. Shocks between 50 to 60 Hertz (Hz) that continue for two or more seconds are most likely to cause cardiac arrest, which is when the heart suddenly stops beating. In these cases, immediate emergency medical treatment is required to save the patient.
Long-Term Effects of Electric Shock
Patients who survive electric shock face a heightened risk for heart problems in the future. This poses diagnostic challenges, and some effects may not become apparent for years.
Long-term follow-up after an electric shock may reveal subtle abnormalities. One area of particular concern is the patient’s sinus node function, which works like a natural pacemaker, producing electrical signals that trigger each heartbeat.
Long-term follow-up and risk assessment that includes electrocardiogram (ECG) tests and other heart diagnostics should be provided regularly for at least 12 months after the accident, if not longer. And patients who have suffered a shock should avoid elective surgery for at least six months.
Establishing a national registry would significantly benefit researchers who study the cardiac aftereffects of electric shock.
Long-term heart damage and health risks for patients who suffer electric shock may include:
- Damage to connecting tissue
- Sinus node complications
- Cardiac events
- Blood clots
- Negative impact on veins and arteries
- Cardiac arrhythmias (heart rhythm problems)
What Causes Electric Shock?
Electrical shock may occur in all types of workplaces, including factories, construction sites, and offices. It’s essential for managers and employers to take sensible precautions whenever electricity is involved and follow OSHA guidelines at all times.
Only professional electricians should service or repair electrical equipment. And electrical tools and circuits must always be approached with extreme caution.
Frequent causes of workplace electric shock include:
- Faulty wiring including crossed wires, bare wires, unbalanced signal wiring, and lack of proper grounding
- Overloads may occur due to faulty wiring, power surges, or when too many appliances are attached to a single circuit
- Temporary wiring such as haphazard solutions involving extension cords, flexible cords, and other forms of substandard wiring
- Safety gear problems including tears in rubber gloves, malfunctioning gear, improper usage, or simply failing to wear safety gear when required
- Failure to shut off electricity before testing or servicing equipment
- Faulty appliances with improper guards, broken cords, frayed wiring, or damaged circuitry
- Old, outdated, or damaged outlets, especially two-pronged outlets that may not provide sufficient grounding
- Live power lines that may have fallen during a storm
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