Apple's MagSafe may interfere with heart devices

The American Heart Association said, Devices equipped with Apple's MagSafe technology can cause interference when placed on the skin or too close to heart devices, such as pacemakers. American Heart Association researchers found that devices selected from all three major cardiology companies (Medtronic, Abbott, and Boston Scientific) had magnetic sensitivity.

In the paper, the researchers wrote, our study demonstrates that the magneto bounce mode may be triggered when iPhone 12 Pro Max is placed directly on the skin over the implantable heart device, and thus has the potential to inhibit life-saving treatments.

They tested the effect of MagSafe on cardiac devices by placing an iPhone near 11 pacemakers and defibrillators. Some pacemakers were implanted in patients and others were new and not yet used.

Placing the iPhone on the skin or very close to the devices resulted in clinically identifiable magnetic interference in all three in vivo devices tested and in eight out of 11 ex vivo devices. The iPhone was able to trigger magnetic resonance mode via an ex vivo device at a distance of up to 1.5 centimeters.

Apple said in an advisory that the iPhone 12 poses no greater risk of magnet interference when compared to the older generation of iPhones. 

The study indicates the opposite of what Apple stated, where the magnet response was shown in 3/3 of the cases in vivo.

MagSafe may interfere with cardiac devices

Compared to the older generation iPhone 6, a case study found no magnetic response in a sample size of 148 patients. Potential interference can occur when someone places the MagSafe in a coat or shirt pocket over their chest. This results in asynchronous pacing or inactivation of anti-hypertrophic therapies. An external magnet strong enough can cause problems with many implantable electronic devices in the heart. So the problem is not limited to MagSafe technology.

The researchers say their findings highlight the importance of public awareness regarding the interaction between implantable electronic devices in the heart and the newly released smartphone model with magnetic charging capability.

The Food and Drug Administration's website states that cell phones do not pose a significant health risk to patients using these devices. But he acknowledges that it may be advisable to take some precautions. Apple revised its MagSafe support document in January. It recommends iPhone 12 users keep the device at least 6 inches away from medical implants. The study authors also suggested patients consult a professional about recommendations for their smartphones and heart implantable electronic devices.

The study findings are consistent with one from the journal Heart Rhythm. This indicated that iPhone 12 could affect implantable electronic devices in the heart when placed on or near the implant.

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