When a 9-year-old boy took a big bite out of a hot dog in Turkey, he didn't choke on it—but he still almost died. That's because, as tests following his resuscitation from cardiac arrest revealed, he has a rare genetic condition known as Brugada syndrome, which impairs the electrical system in the heart that helps maintain a regular heartbeat, reports CNN. In this case, it appears that the chunk of food stimulated his vagus nerve to change EKG patterns. The finding compelled docs to report in their case study in the journal Pediatrics that children who go into cardiac arrest after taking a large bite of food should be evaluated for Brugada.
Given the condition is inherited, the boy's doctors in Istanbul were quick to test the whole family. While they're still waiting on results for the parents, his brother has tested positive as well. "Odds are good that one of the parents has this," one expert says. "Sometimes, you don't really see it until you do the challenge test." In the US, four out of 1,000 people have tested positive for the condition, reports USA Today. For this boy, who has since had a cardioverter defibrillator implanted, the hot dog that almost killed him very well may be what also saved his and his brother's life. (A doctor saved her own son's life on the soccer field when she performed CPR after he went into impact-induced cardiac arrest.)