WINSTON-SALEM, N.C., Jan. 15 (UPI) -- Taser stun devices police use to subdue fleeing, belligerent or dangerous suspects play no role in fatal heart attacks, a U.S. university study says.
The three-year study by Wake Forest University's medical school found no links between the 50,000-volt weapons and fatal heart attacks, the researchers said in the Annals of Emergency Medicine, published by the American College of Emergency Physicians.
The devices manufactured by Taser International Inc. are carried by more than two-thirds of U.S. police agencies. Tasers are controversial because some people hit by their electroshock projectiles were injured or died.
"We finally have a real-world estimate of the risk associated with these weapons ... and we found that to be low," study author Dr. William Bozeman said.
"That's important because these are violent encounters, and a small scrape or bruise is simply not the same as serious head injury or life-threatening internal injury," he told the Orlando (Fla.) Sentinel.
Researchers from five medical schools reviewed 1,201 shock-arrest cases and tied three serious injuries and no deaths to the devices, the researchers said.
They attributed the two deaths to a combination of prolonged struggles, drug abuse and preexisting medical conditions.
Amnesty International said last month Taser shocks "caused or contributed to at least 50 deaths" in the United States between June 2001 and August 2008.
Coroners attributed most of those deaths to other causes, such as drug intoxication or "excited delirium," the human rights groups said. It defined "excited delirium" as "a term often used to describe someone who is in an agitated or highly disturbed state."