Can smart phones kill people who have a pacemaker?

August 14, 2015
Volume 12    |   Issue 97

If you have a pacemaker or an implanted defibrillator there are all kinds of electrical and magnetic fields that your doctor may have warned you about. Things such as anti-theft systems (called EAS systems), metal detector security devices, certain MP3 player headphones, and a number of different medical scanning devices. All of these might interfere with your implanted cardiac device. But what about smart phones? Is it possible that you might get your last call on a smart phone? The possibility gives a whole new meaning to the implications of a dropped call.

Currently, the FDA recommends that cell phones be kept at least five to seven inches away from an implanted cardiac device. But these guidelines are based on research that was conducted before smart phones came on the scene. Additionally, mobile network standards have also changed in order to accommodate smart phones. So is it possible that these new technological advances might interfere with implanted cardiac devices? A group of scientists set out to answer that question. The results were reported in last month's news release from the European Society of Cardiology.

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In the study, the researchers tested three of the most common smart phones: Samsung Galaxy 3; Nokia Lumia; and HTC One XL. Then they tested the phones on more than 300 patients with various cardiac implants. After the patients were connected to a continuously running EKG (electrocardiogram), they placed the phones on their skin directly above their heart device. Then the fun began.

The researchers analyzed the effect of various phone activities such as connecting calls, ringing, talking, and hanging up on the function of the implants. Just to be sure of their findings, the tests were performed at the maximum frequency known to cause interference. The study's lead author, Dr. Carsten Lennerz, further explained, "From earlier studies, we know that the most vulnerable phases of a call are ringing and connecting to the network, not talking, so it was important to analyze these separately." Here's what they found.

After conducting more than 3,400 tests, the study showed that only one of the patients was affected by the smart phones. As one of the authors of the study stated, "Patients with a cardiac device can use a smart phone. But they should not place it directly over the cardiac device. That means not storing it in a pocket above the cardiac device. They should also hold their smart phone to the ear opposite to the side of the device implant."

So go ahead and make those calls folks. Your spouse wants to know why you're not home yet.

Yours for better health,


Can Smartphones Interfere With Pacemakers? Study finds tiny risk, and users are advised to keep phones away from chest pockets by Mary Elizabeth Dallas. MONDAY, June 22, 2015 (HealthDay News) -¬health-information-20/heart-attack-news-357/do-smartphones-interfere-with-pacemakers-700605.html

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