In order to determine the effects of video games on the heart, we must look at

several different things. First, we must determine which specific areas we want

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to investigate. Looking at increased heart rate and blood pressure, we need to

determine the average maximum heart rate for the age group being tested. We must

determine what factors can cause one's heart rate to increase, and we must look

at the current studies in regard to the various social effects of video and

other electronic games. The main way that we increase our heart rate is through

exercise, and even then health care professionals recognize the importance of

pacing yourself. In order to pace yourself, you must determine your target heart

rate. To do this, you must measure your pulse periodically as you exercise and

stay within 50 to 75 percent of you maximum heart rate. A simple rule of thumb

is if you can talk and walk at the same time, you are not working too hard. If

you can sing and maintain your level of effort, you are probably not working

hard enough. If you get out of breath quickly, you are probably working too

hard, especially if you have to stop and catch your breath. The target heart

rate chart is broken down from twenty years of age to seventy years. The target

heart rate zone of fifty to seventy-five percent for people of twenty years is

100-150 beats per minute with the average maximum heart rate of 100% at 200

beats per minute. The second main contributor to increasing your heart rate is

through stress. Doctors have determined that the problem with stress is that our

body thinks we are still cavemen. There hasn't been time for us to evolve

physiologically from the high-threat, short-duration stress situations that

primitive man faced to the relatively low-threat, long-duration stresses of

modern society. When your body receives a message that you are under stress, it

automatically thinks you are going to do one of two things, fight or run away.

The body does not know how to temper its response to deal with the week-long

pressure of dooming deadlines or other stresses that we deal with daily. This

overkill response, in time, takes a physical toll, especially on the

cardiovascular system. When you are under stress, you are not thriving. Your

blood pressure is elevated, your blood clotting mechanism is working at full

force, your heart is beating faster than normal and your metabolic rate is up.

Keep it for hours and you will be exhausted, for years and you are headed for a

heart attack. Doctors place stress as the secondary risk factor for heart

disease. Stress and video games often go hand in hand. During the last several

decades, video games have emerged as one of the most popular forms of adolescent

entertainment. In the United States alone, video game revenues total ten billion

dollars annually. On the average, children who have home video games play with

them approximately ninety minutes a day. Some of the trends in game playing are

disturbing some observers. A 1993 study asked 357 seventh and eight graders to

list their preferences among five categories of video games. The study found

that fantasy violence topped the list at thirty-two percent. It also find that

boys who play violent games tend to have a lower self-concept in the areas of

academic ability, peer acceptance and behavior. The most interesting is the

possible link between playing violent video games and subsequent aggressive

behavior. Boys aged eight to fourteen are the core audience for video games.

Another study found that a series of three video games played under three

increasing levels of stress elicited progressively higher values of blood

pressure and heart rate. Both the race and gender of the subjects affected the

reactivity. Heavy video game players have a difficult time with the regard to

discharging aggression, and have a lower frustration tolerance. It has been

found that hostility is increased when playing highly aggressive video games and

mildly aggressive games. Subjects playing the high aggression game were much

more anxious than the other subjects. In one study, the researcher found that

not only did the heart rates of the participants increase while playing video

games, but also the rates of those merely watching the game increased. The study

demonstrated clear differences between playing the violent game over a

non-violent game. The study also demonstrated strong differences between playing

and watching the games in violent verses non-violent games. Physiological data

points to large differences in the intensity of physiological response to

violent games over non-violent games. One potential inference that may be drawn

is that the violent content is more demanding of the player and therein lies the

increased physiological response. The violent play field is one where the player

must always be on guard, any lack of attention will result in the end of a turn.

This dynamic of the violent play field insures that the violent games will have

greater feedback and interaction with the player. The non-violent games allow

time for thought and are not as demanding on the player. This does not present

the player with the need of defensive posture all the time. Other research has

suggested that playing video games may affect some children's physical

functioning. Effects have ranged from triggering epileptic seizures to causing

heart rate and blood pressure changes. Serious adverse physical effects are

limited to a small number of players. A new study suggests that watching the

most violent video games may leave children more prone to heart problems later

in life. Researchers measured blood chemicals of sixty students, before and

after playing violent video games and found that the adrenaline levels increased

by as much as nineteen percent. Many doctors agree that this is not good for the

heart. Over a period of time, people with these elevated levels may be at a

higher risk for high blood pressure later in life. Adrenaline is produced by the

body when one becomes excited, scared, nervous or agitated. High blood pressure,

or hypertension, if gone untreated places one at a high risk for the development

of a disabling or fatal disease. Unfortunately, hypertension is often overlooked

because one may not experience any symptoms, thus its nickname, "the silent

killer". Symptoms include consistent blood pressure readings of 140/90 or

higher, headache, flush face or a pulsing sensation in the head. The blood

pressure is determined by two readings, the top number indicates the systolic

blood pressure and the bottom the diastolic pressure. Normal systolic readings

are below 140, 140 to 159 indicates borderline hypertension, above 160 is

definite systolic hypertension. The diastolic pressure is normal below 85.

Borderline hypertension occurs when the reading is 85 to 89. Mild to moderate

hypertension ranges from 90 to 114, and severe hypertension is classified at 115

and above. When determining if you have high blood pressure, you should have

several readings at various times of the day for several days. If your readings

are consistently elevated, the you have confirmed hypertension. Doctors are

concerned that children playing violent video games are unknowingly setting

themselves up for future heart problems. In 1983, a study on the effects of

video games on children found that they had a more positive effect on children

than watching television. More recent research has found connections between

children's playing of violent video games and later aggressive behavior. One

point that disturbs researchers is that violent video games often put the

player, as the lone man against an evil force. Such games as this, they

conclude, does not teach a child to be a team player and offers no sense of

community. This encourages a child to isolate himself, and not interact with

fellow peers, in a team type situation. The dominance of the male figure versus

the female figure has triggered many researchers to question the social content

of the games and the influence of their attitudes in regard to gender roles.

With some video games causing aggression and aggression being a contributor to

stress and stress a contributor to increased heart rate, and high blood

pressure, one could arrive at the conclusion that video games can indeed effect

your heart rate and lead to future heart problems.