A young boy in Turkey almost died after taking a large bite of a hot dog, and a rare heart condition is to blame.
A medical report published by doctors in Istanbul states that the 9-year-old boy went into cardiac arrest and collapsed after biting into a frankfurter at school, according to HealthDay News.
Luckily, the boy survived after being "defibrillated and resuscitated for 30 minutes," noted the case study, which was originally published in the medical journal Pediatrics. He was later sent to a hospital specializing in thoracic and cardiovascular surgery, where he was examined by Dr. Isa Ozyilmaz.
Ozyilmaz ran a series of tests and found the boy has Brugada syndrome, a rare but serious heart defect.
"Brugada syndrome is a relatively rare condition that affects the [electrical] conduction system of the heart," Dr. Sophia Jan of Cohen Children's Medical Center in New York told HealthDay News. "The biggest danger of Brugada syndrome is that it can cause the heart to develop dangerous irregular rhythms that can lead to sudden death."
In this case, it was the boy's vagus nerve that caused the near-fatal cardiac event.
"The vagus nerve is a long nerve that travels from the brain down to the heart and into our gut," Jan explained. "It controls, among many things, our heart rate -- we can actually cause our heart rate to slow down by activating our vagus nerve, which happens when we bear down or when we try to exhale while pinching our nose and closing our mouth."
She continued: "When this young boy with Brugada syndrome took a large bite of a hot dog, he likely gagged slightly on the hot dog, causing activation of his vagus nerve, and consequently triggering an irregular rhythm of his heart."
The boy now has a defibrillator in his chest to prevent similar cardiac events in the future.
"Defibrillators in kids are associated with higher risks than in adults, for sure," Dr. Anne Dubin of Lucile Packard Children's Hospital Stanford told CNN. "But sometimes we need to do it ... there isn't a whole lot we can do for people, and the primary way we treat them is with a defibrillator."
Because the condition tends to be hereditary, other members of the boy's family were also brought in to have their hearts examined. Tests revealed that his brother also has Brugada syndrome.
About 4 in 1,000 Americans will be diagnosed with Brugada syndrome at some point in their lives, according to EKG results analyzed by the Stanford Center for Inherited Cardiovascular Disease. Men are more likely to have the condition than women, and it is most commonly found in people of Asian descent.
The condition is almost always asymptomatic, and most people aren't diagnosed until later in life.
"People shouldn't panic about Brugada syndrome," Dubin told CNN. "If you have a family history of people dying suddenly with no known reason or if you have someone in your family who has been diagnosed with Brugada syndrome as an adult, children need to be evaluated for it, and we need to know about it."