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British Heart Rhythm Society warns on Apple iPhone 12

by Mark Tyson on 11 January 2021, 15:57

Tags: Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL)

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The British Heart Rhythm Society (BHRS) has highlighted a problem, or one could say a considerable danger, for patients with high risk cardiac conditions replying on an ICD (pacemaker). Briefly, the MagSafe feature of the latest Apple iPhone 12 range is strong enough to suspend the life saving features of the implanted ICD if you place this smartphone in your breast pocket.

An ICD is an 'Implantable Cardioverter Defibrillator' and contains a battery, capacitors, sensing/ pacing circuit together with an intra-or extra-cardiac lead. Importantly all ICDs contain a switch which responds to an externally applied magnetic field. The switch toggles the high voltage shock therapy for ventricular tachycardia and ventricular fibrillation.

At the October launch of the iPhone 12 series of smartphones Apple made a big deal of its MagSafe technology as a special desirable feature. The idea is that a circular arracy of magnets in the rear of the phone allows for easy to place optimal wireless charging at up to 15W. Moreover, Apple and its accessory making partners have further plans for the magnetic connector like; cases, wallets, with more to come.

The BHRS refers to a study where a patient with a Medtronic ICD experienced immediate suspension of ICD therapies when the iPhone 12 was brought close to the left chest area. Worryingly it was easy to reproduce the effect: "This was reproduced multiple times with different positions of the phone over the pocket," notes the BHRS blog. Meanwhile, other contemporary studies have shown minimal risk of electromagnetic interference with ICDs and prior smartphones without MagSafe magnetic arrays.

Apple's support website does mention potential magnetic interference with iPhones and medical devices but says that "Though all iPhone 12 models contain more magnets than prior iPhone models, they’re not expected to pose a greater risk of magnetic interference to medical devices than prior iPhone models."

HEXUS Forums :: 13 Comments

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and I thought only the price of an iphone was heart stopping
We normally tell patients to avoid sticking phones over devices. But I normally follow that up with “but we've never seen any evidence of interference from it” as it has usually been EMI that's the concern. The devices used to have reed switches in (now I think Hall effect sensors to avoid damage from MRIs) to enable therapies to be turned off in an emergency. Some ICDs beep with a magnet and some don't. This issue is with pacemakers as well. It doesn't suspend pacemaker therapy (that'd be dramatic) but changes the mode and might cause palpitations and so on.

Incidentally, I had to have my implant (neither of the above) reprogrammed to disable the magnet response as working in the pacing clinic kept switching me off with all the magnets laying around.

Ideally, Apple will be shipping these with a label saying “do not place over implanted devices”.
Sorry, but how does increasing the number of magnets stacked together not change the strength of the magnetic field.

Individually the magnets are likely no stronger than before but in a larger group they will have a stronger effect in the same small place.
So Apple are not only trying to rob you, now they're trying to kill you too! lol
An Apple a day DOESN'T keep the doctor away….