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Latest technology including new iPhone could turn off pacemakers

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Closeup of hands of young man in checkered shirt using mobile phone while his partners arguing

By Joe Morgan via SWNS

Heart patients are being warned the latest technology - including the new iPhone - could turn off their pacemakers.

Researchers are warning magnets inside the iPhone 12 Pro Max could disable implantable cardioverter defibrillators (ICD).

Tests show users of the Apple AirPods Pro charging case, the Apple Pencil 2nd Generation and the Microsoft Surface Pen are also at risk.

Keeping your phone or gadget away from a shirt or jacket pocket is vital as it may cause the ICD to stop working, a new study warns.

While tests are yet to be completed on other gadgets, researchers fear e-cigarettes and other portable devices may also be a danger.

In the study, researchers explain devices with magnets have an "area of magnetic influence" that can disable pulse generators for implanted ICDs and pacemakers.

Earlier research on the iPhone 12 Pro Max demonstrated that its magnetic field is strong enough to interfere with the normal operation of an implanted pacemaker or ICD when held within an inch.

Researchers were able to show the Microsoft Surface Pen was able to disable ICDs from 2.9cm or 1.14 inches away

It was around 2cm for all Apple products.

Researchers placed the portable electronic devices closer and closer to five debrilitators from two representative manufacturers until a deactivation occurred.

Dr. Corentin Féry, a research engineer at the University of Applied Sciences and Arts Northwestern Switzerland, said: “If you carry a portable electronic device close to your chest and have a history of tachycardia (rapid heartbeat) with an ICD, strong magnets in these devices could disable your cardioverter defibrillator.

Heart patients should be aware of these risks, and their doctor should tell them to be careful with these electronic devices with magnets.

“These devices can cause a problem when carried in your shirt or jacket pocket in front of the chest, as well as when you are lying on the couch and resting the electronic device on your chest, or if you fall asleep with the electronic device.

“The main thing to remember is that any electronic device may be a danger, especially ones with a magnet inside.”

Dr. Sven Kect, research engineer at University of Basel, Switzerland, said: “The public needs to be aware of the potential risks of portable electronic devices in addition to the iPhone 12 Pro Max that may affect anyone with an ICD.

“What is most concerning is that magnets are being used in more and more portable electronic devices, and with so many magnets around us, the risk to cardiac patients is even greater.

"With so many copycat products and accessories available, there may be a problem for the public to know which products pose increased risks."

He added: “In people with ICDs, the impact of the magnetic interaction will depend on the individual and their overall health.

“This research was the first step in identifying the importance of assessing some products for safety.

"The next step is to confirm these interactions by testing implanted devices in volunteer patients who are at the hospital for routine tests.”

The study was published in Circulation: Arrhythmia and Electrophysiology.

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