It turns out smart phones can give jolts of painful shocks to people with pacemakers, a new study has proven. Dr. Carsten Lennerz , first author and cardiology resident in the Clinic for Heart and Circulatory Diseases, from the German Heart Center says that pace makers sometimes can interpret electromagnetic interference (EMI) from the smart phones to be cardiac signals.
Lennerz said that this interference leads to a pause in the cardiac rhythm of the pacing dependent patient and results in syncope. The implantable cardioverter defibrillators (ICDs) the external signal is interpreted as a life threatening ventricular tachyarrhythmia, leading the ICD to deliver a painful shock.
U.s Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and device manufactures have recommended a safety distance of 15-20 cms between pacemakers and mobile phones. This is based upon studies performed 10 years ago on pacemakers.
Since the earliest study done on which this conclusions is based is about 10nyears old, a current study was conducted to consider if the recommended safety distance was still the same for the newer version of smart phones and the new cardiac devices.
New cardiac devices are now in the market, including ICD’s, cardiac resynchronisation therapy (CRT) and MRI compatible devices.
The new study in which308 patients participated , including 147 people with pacemakers , 161 with ICD’s and 65 people with CRT’s, were exposed to electromagnetic field of three of the most common smart phones. The researchers connected the smart phone to a radio communication tester, working like a mobile network station.
Researchers than started ringing the smart phone or other standard protocols of calling such as connecting, dialing, talking etc., The Electrocardiograms (ECGs) were recorded simultaneously and checked.
After more than 3,400 tests were conducted one out of the 308 patients was affected, meaning a 0.3% chance of getting affected by EMI caused by smart phones
Thus the relation between smart phones causing disturbance to a cardiac device is uncommon, but since the possibility and chance is there it is recommended to keep a safe distance.
“Interestingly, the device influenced by EMI in our study was MRI compatible which shows that these devices are also susceptible,” said Lennerz.