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Physical effect of an electric current that enters the body, ranging from a minor static-electricity discharge to a power-line accident or lightning strike but most often resulting from house current. The effects depend on the current (not the voltage), and the worst damage occurs along its path from the entry to the exit point. Causes of immediate death are ventricular fibrillation and paralysis of the brain's breathing centre or of the heart. Cardiopulmonary resuscitation is the best first aid. Though most survivors recover completely, aftereffects may include cataract, angina pectoris, or nervous-system disorders.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on electric shock, visit Britannica.com.