FDA says iPhone 12 MagSafe risk to pacemakers is low

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in iPhone
An investigation by the US Food and Drug Administration into devices such as MagSafe and the iPhone 12, has concluded that the risk to patients with pacemakers is low, but advises caution.

iPhone 12 Pro Max with Saddle Brown leather case and the black MagSafe wallet
Magnets are increasingly being used in both devices and accessories


Following Apple's rewording of its iPhone 12 and MagSafe support documents to recommend careful use of the devices near pacemakers, the FDA has issued its own guidance. The FDA has conducted its own testing and says that although care is needed, the risk of problems is slight.

"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," says Jeff Shuren, M.D., J.D., director of the FDA's Center for Devices and Radiological Health, in a statement.

"However, the number of consumer electronics with strong magnets is expected to increase over time," he continued. "Therefore, we recommend people with implanted medical devices talk with their health care provider to ensure they understand this potential risk and the proper techniques for safe use."

Potential issues with magnets in devices such as Apple's, were first raised in the Heart Rhythm Society's journal in January 2021. Apple had advised users to consult medical practitioners if they were unsure about the magnets interfering, but it then updated that to give more detailed guidance.

Specifically, it advises iPhone 12 users who have pacemakers, or use similar medical equipment, to keep the phone between 6 and 12 inches away from such devices. The FDA's separate testing has resulted in similar advice.

"It is important to emphasize the following: to avoid interference between cell phones and smart watches and your heart device, keep them at least six inches (15 centimeters) away from implanted medical devices," says the FDA in an accompanying advisory. "Also, do not place cell phones, smart watches, and other consumer electronics close to your implanted medical device."

Although the FDA concentrated on cell phones and smart watches, its point about increasing use of magnets is not confined to that category of products. Besides magnets in assorted models of iPad, Apple has separately been researching an expanded use of magnets in case covers, and wearable Apple Watch bands.

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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 6
    sflocalsflocal Posts: 5,728member
    You hear that sound?  That sound are armies of ambulance-chasing lawyers feverishly typing their template lawsuit filings, waiting for an iPhone-owning person with a pacemaker to die.

    i feel this story just gave these lowlifes an idea.
    lkruppwatto_cobra
  • Reply 2 of 6
    M68000M68000 Posts: 365member
    Let’s hope it’s going to be safe having these magnets in phones.  I’m wondering about the long term exposure with the device close to the body for long periods of time.  There is interesting info on effects of magnets near the body available.  It also appears that iron in the blood is different than just regular iron,  it’s in a different state.   Hopefully Apple did their homework on safety before the go ahead was given to just start using magnets.
  • Reply 3 of 6
    mknelsonmknelson Posts: 824member
    M68000 said:
    Let’s hope it’s going to be safe having these magnets in phones.  I’m wondering about the long term exposure with the device close to the body for long periods of time.  There is interesting info on effects of magnets near the body available.  It also appears that iron in the blood is different than just regular iron,  it’s in a different state.   Hopefully Apple did their homework on safety before the go ahead was given to just start using magnets.
    There is a lot of magnet hoax/snake oil information available - healing bands and the like.

    Iron in hemoglobin is only weakly magnetic - there also isn't much of it! The properties also vary by oxygenation. https://www.sciencelearn.org.nz/resources/1010-does-blood-have-magnetic-properties

    https://www.thoughtco.com/not-all-iron-is-magnetic-3976017
    darkvaderwatto_cobra
  • Reply 4 of 6
    Graeme000Graeme000 Posts: 11member
    Although it is something to be aware of, this isn't really anything new: people with pacemakers are advised not to hang their headphones around their necks due to the magnets in the headphones. 
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 5 of 6
    MplsPMplsP Posts: 3,251member
    Graeme000 said:
    Although it is something to be aware of, this isn't really anything new: people with pacemakers are advised not to hang their headphones around their necks due to the magnets in the headphones. 
    I would be astonished if the magnets on any headphones that you would hang around your neck were strong enough to have any effect at all.

    Here’s the thing - pacemakers are generally implanted right below the clavicle. To affect a pacemaker at all, you have to either have an incredibly strong magnet or be immediately above it. Earbud headphone magnets aren’t strong enough to do anything and even the headphones with larger magnets (think AirPod Maxes) will not be close enough.

    sflocal said:
    You hear that sound?  That sound are armies of ambulance-chasing lawyers feverishly typing their template lawsuit filings, waiting for an iPhone-owning person with a pacemaker to die.

    i feel this story just gave these lowlifes an idea.
    Ironically, pacemakers and AICDs emit a tone when they sense a magnet.

    The thing is, with rare exceptions, all modern pacemakers revert to a fixed rate (usually 80 beats per minute.) That means putting a magnet on won’t suddenly keep the device from pacing and leave the person without a pulse.

    ICDs are a bit different - most of these will disable the antiarrhythmic (defibrillator) function and leave any pacing unaffected. This is potentially more serious, but in reality not much since the antiarrhythmic function only comes in to play if a patient has a shockable arrhythmia (like v-tach) and these occur exceptionally rarely. The entire point of therapy is to prevent these arrhythmias from happening in the first place; the ICD is only an emergency backup.

    watto_cobra
  • Reply 6 of 6
    darkvaderdarkvader Posts: 589member
    I wonder how much Apple paid them to say that?

    If you've got a pacemaker, you should probably wait until there's an actual study released before getting an iPhone 12, or at the very least keep the thing well away from your chest.
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