Police Realistic Tactical Training Is Not Risk‑Free: Stress‑Induced Wide‑QRS Paroxysmal Tachyarrhythmia in a Healthy Police Officer and Professional Athlete

Donatella Brisinda, Peter Fenici, Riccardo Fenici*

*Autore corrispondente per questo lavoro

Risultato della ricerca: Contributo in rivistaArticolo in rivista


The reported case, a spin-off of a wider ongoing national study investigating the individual stress reactions of police officers during realistic police tactical training, highlights the eventuality that stress-induced paroxysmal arrhythmias might occur and remain undetected without ECG monitoring as a standard practice. The ECG of a 41-year-old frontline police officer (and professional athlete of the State Police’s rugby team) was monitored with a wireless, textile-based, wearable device during stressful scenarios implying the use of force. ECG data were processed with the Kubios software to assess traininginduced time-varying changes of heart rate variability parameters and of the parasympathetic, sympathetic, and stress indices. Multiparametric analysis of the heart rate variability quantified remarkable stress-induced increment of vagal withdrawal and of sympathetic dominance, with exceptionally high-stress index and sudden occurrence of a wide-QRS paroxysmal tachyarrhythmia (240 bpm) with concomitant operational failure. Subsequent exhaustive mandatory clinical assessment excluded any structural and arrhythmogenic cardiac abnormality. Although exceptional and to the best of our knowledge so far unique, the recording of a stress-induced paroxysmal wide-QRS arrhythmia occurring during realistic tactical training in a healthy police officer and highly fit athlete is worth to be shared as a caveat about the potential risk if eventually occurring in officers with unknown cardiovascular risk factors (e.g., for ischemic heart disease). Moreover, the demonstration that such a high level of stress may occur even in an experienced, healthy, and highly fit officer altering the physiologic dynamicity of brain–heart interaction with a negative consequence on the operational outcome strongly suggests that individual emotional reactions induced by stressful duty events must be safely experienced and assessed with realistic training, to adopt preventive coping strategies, to improve police officers’ efficiency in front of threats, and to lower the risk of inappropriate use of force with dramatic consequences on the street.
Lingua originaleEnglish
pagine (da-a)N/A-N/A
Numero di pagine11
RivistaJournal of Police and Criminal Psychology
Stato di pubblicazionePubblicato - 2023
Pubblicato esternamente


  • Heart Rate variability
  • Stress assessment


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