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EMF Studies

17 July 2016

Smartphones’ Electromagnetic Interference Can Affect Pacemakers In Patients

Smartphones’ Electromagnetic Interference Can Slightly Affect Pacemakers In Patients
by Pauline Angela Quiambao,
thenewsindependent, 19 June 2016

Patients with heart conditions that requires them to have a pacemaker to regulate their heartbeat should be warned against the harmful effects of smartphones to the device.

“Pacemakers can mistakenly detect electromagnetic interference (EMI) from smartphones as a cardiac signal, causing them to briefly stop working, this leads to a pause in the cardiac rhythm of the pacing dependent patient and may result in syncope. For implantable cardioverter defibrillators (ICDs) the external signal mimics a life-threatening ventricular tachyarrhythmia, leading the ICD to deliver a painful shock,” explained author Dr. Carsten Lennerz, a cardiology resident in the Clinic for Heart and Circulatory Diseases at the German Heart Centre.

Around 147 patients with implanted pacemakers and 161 who have ICDs were involved in the study. The patients were then exposed to three common kinds of smartphones: HTC One XL, Samsung Galaxy 3 and Nokia Lumia, to see the effect.

Smartphones were set at the top of each patients’ skin, directly above the device which then plugged into a radio communication tester. The phones were set to their basic functions such as texting, calling, talking and disconnecting.

“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,” Lennerz said.

Results showed that of the 3,400 trials of EMIs performed, less than one percent of the patients were affected.

Still, why risk such a small percentage?

“Nearly everyone uses smartphones and there is the possibility of interference with a cardiac device if you come too close. Patients with a cardiac device can use a smartphone but they should not place it directly over the cardiac device,” stated Dr. Christopf Kolb, lead author from the German Heart Center

The US Food and Drug Administration together with the manufacturers recommend patients to at least be 15 to 20 cm away from smartphones and ICDs.

Source: Med Page Today and Business Standard


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