Research conducted by Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in the U.S finds that the latest cell phones, smartwatches and other consumer electronics like iPhone 12 MagSafe wireless charger and accessories with high field strength do not have an adverse impact on the function of pacemakers and the risk to patients’ health is low.
To support wireless charging, the new iPhone 12 and MagSafe charger and accessories are equipped with charging coils and near-field communication (NFC) reader (magnetometer and single-coil) which creates an external magnetic field. After testing the smartphone’s impact on implantable cardioverter-defibrillator (ICD) HeartRhythm society wrote that iPhone 12 can “inhibit lifesaving therapy in a patient, particularly when the phone is carried in an upper check pocket.”
Even Apple’s support page mentions that:
Medical devices such as implanted pacemakers and defibrillators might contain sensors that respond to magnets and radios when in close contact. To avoid any potential interactions with these devices, keep your iPhone and MagSafe accessories a safe distance away from your device (more than 6 inches / 15 cm apart or more than 12 inches / 30 cm apart if wirelessly charging). But consult with your physician and your device manufacturer for specific guidelines.
FDA says devices with high field strength magnets like iPhone 12 and MagSafe pose low-risk patients with pacemakers
FDA explains that its purpose is “ensuring the safety of our nation’s medical devices is a cornerstone of our consumer protection mission, especially as technology continues to advance.” Therefore, it conducted the study itself to confirm the aforementioned claims and concluded that:
“We’re taking steps to provide information for patients and health care providers to ensure they are aware of potential risks and can take simple proactive and preventative measures.
We believe the risk to patients is low and the agency is not aware of any adverse events associated with this issue at this time.“
Having said that, the administration has also published a few guidelines for patients with pacemakers to follow.
The FDA advises patients with implanted medical devices to consider taking precautions, including:
- Keeping consumer electronics, such as certain cell phones and smart watches, six inches away from implanted medical devices.
- Refraining from carrying consumer electronics in a pocket over the medical device.
- Talking to your health care provider if you have questions regarding magnets in consumer electronics and implanted medical devices.
The administration says that as the number of devices with magnets is likely to increase in the coming day, it will continue to “monitor the effects of consumer electronics on the safe operation of implanted medical devices.”