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Impact of Smartphones on cardioverter defibrillators

Jul
18

Date: July 18th, 2015

Recommended distances between smartphones and implanted cardio devices

Recommended safety distance between a smartphone and an implanted cardio device is currently between fifteen and twenty centimeters. The problem with these recommendations according to the cardiologist that participated in the research is that the Food and Drug Administration set these standards more than ten years ago. Since the establishment of the standards, there have been technological advances made in the smartphones and in the implanted cardio devices that could change the recommendations.

Pacemakers

According to the European Heart Rhythm Association and the European Society of Cardiology pacemakers may detect the electromagnetic interferences emitted by smartphones as being signals from your heart. When this happens, it could cause the pacemaker to shut down. This would create an imbalance in the heart rhythm of the person wearing the pacemaker, and could result in syncope.

Implantable Cardioverter Defibrillators

The implantable cardioverter defibrillators can detect the external signals emitted by the smartphones and they may think the heart is experiencing a life threatening tachyarrhythmia, thus they would deliver a painful shock to the heart.

The study

Three hundred and eight participants were gathered for the study. Of those one hundred and forty seven of them had pacemakers implanted and one hundred and sixty one had cardioverter defibrillators.

The participants were exposed to the emissions from three modern smartphones that were positioned on their skin directly above the location of their implanted devices.

The researchers noted and compiled the effects that the emissions from the smartphones had on the implanted devices. They took data when the phone rang, when the connection to the line was created, when the person was talking on the telephone, and when the disconnection of the call was made.

How common was the Interference?

The interference caused by the EMI of the smartphones on the implanted cardio devices was low enough to be considered rare by medical professionals. Only one person in the three hundred and eight participants was affected by the EMI from the smartphone exposure.

What this means to doctors

Doctors know that the possibility of interference from a smartphone with an implanted cardio device exists, and even though the threat is rare they must take the possibility serious.

Doctors can warn their patients who have implanted cardio devices such as pacemakers to not keep their smartphones in pockets on their clothing that are located directly above the implanted device. This will reduce the possibility of interference.

Patients should also be told that if they wear the ear pieces for phones they should put them in the ear on the opposite side of their boy from the cardio device to eliminate possible interference. The standard distances that the Food and Drug Administration established ten years ago are still adequate to protect people with implanted cardio devices from having signal interference from smartphones.

Doctors should explain to their cardio patients about the possibility of interference, but they should also remind their patients that the occurrence of this type of interference is very rare.

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