iPods May Interfere With Pacemaker Function

Armen Hareyan's picture


Portable music players called iPods interfered with pacemakers in 30 percent of patients tested in a new study, though none of the interference was life-threatening.


The study was presented here by a high school student who worked with a University of Michigan and Michigan State University team; the presentation took place at the Heart Rhythm Society's 28th Annual Scientific Sessions.

Krit Jongnarangsin, M.D.When held two inches from the patients' chests for five to 10 seconds, iPods interfered with telemetry equipment monitoring the heart, caused implantable pacemakers to misread the heart's pacing, and, in one case, caused the device to stop functioning.

"For people depending on these pacing devices, iPod interference can lead physicians to misdiagnose the actual heart function," said Jay Thaker, lead author and a high school senior at Okemos High School in Okemos, MI. "Our findings are disconcerting because although the typical pacemaker patient may not be an iPod user, they are often in close contact with grandchildren and other young people who are avid users."

The study tested iPods on 83 patients at the Thoracic and Cardiovascular Institute and Michigan State University with dual chamber and single chamber pacemakers. Telemetry interference was found in 29 percent of patients, over sensing (pacemakers misreading the heart's function) in 20 percent, and pacemaker inhibition (pacemaker stopped functioning) in one patient. In some cases, interference was detected even when iPods were held as far as 18 inches from the chest.