MagSafe has 'clinically significant' risk to cardiac devices, says American Heart Associat...

Posted:
in iPhone edited June 3
Apple MagSafe devices can interfere with pacemakers when placed directly over the skin, or in very close proximity, says the American Heart Association.

Apple's iPhone 12 range introduced MagSafe charging
Apple's iPhone 12 range introduced MagSafe charging


The Journal of the American Heart Association has concurred with a previous report by the Heart Rhythm Journal which said close contact with an iPhone 12 affected certain implantable cardiac devices. As with that report, the American Heart Association says the effect are solely when the iPhone is on or very near the implant.

For its tests, the American Heart Association chiefly used an iPhone 12 Pro Max. However, the report notes that "[s]elect devices from all three major device companies were found to have magnetic susceptibility."

"Our study demonstrates that magnet reversion mode may be triggered when the iPhone 12 Pro Max is placed directly on the skin over an implantable cardiac device and thus has the potential to inhibit lifesaving therapies," say the report writers in the Journal of the American Heart Association.

The testing involved placing the iPhone 12 Pro Max in very close proximity to a series of 11 different pacemakers and defibrillators.

Some were devices already implanted in a series of patients, which the report calls "in vivo" testing. Others were "ex vivo," or newly unboxed devices not yet implanted.

The degree of interference did vary across the testing, but all devices were affected. The report says that "the iPhone 12 Pro Max was able to trigger magnetic reversion mode at a distance up to 1.5cm [0.6 inches]."

"Apple Inc, has an advisory stating that the newer generation iPhone 12 does not pose a greater risk for magnet interference when compared to the older generation iPhones," notes the report. "However, our study suggests otherwise as magnet response was demonstrated in 3/3 cases in vivo."

"In comparison to the older generation iPhone 6, a study performed by Lacour et al, found no cases of magnet response in a sample size of 148 patients," it says.

"Our case series has several clinical implications," continues the report. "People often put their smartphones in a breast pocket over a device which can be in close proximity to CIEDs [cardiac implantable electronic devices. This can lead to asynchronous pacing or disabling of antitachycardic therapies."

The report recommends a wider study, but also that heart patients who use any smartphones should "consult with a heart rhythm specialist" for advice.

In January 2021, Apple updated its MagSafe support document to recommend that users keep the iPhone 12 six inches away from any medical implants.

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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 15
    dewmedewme Posts: 3,945member
    The FDA has issued a statement about this https://www.fda.gov/radiation-emitting-products/cell-phones/magnets-cell-phones-and-smart-watches-may-affect-pacemakers-and-other-implanted-medical-devices . It seems like the American Heart Association should be working with the FDA to formulate guidance and parameters for product makers to follow. It may be time for product makers to be required to include a warning label or insert with their product packaging to allow consumers to be more aware of the potential risks. 
    Alex_VCheeseFreezepscooter63
  • Reply 2 of 15
    lkrupplkrupp Posts: 9,628member
    The class action lawyers are drooling over their morning coffee.
    mike1jony0leavingthebiggcornchip
  • Reply 3 of 15
    For people like me who have a pacemaker, it is a built-in aversion to personal damage that stops us from putting anything magnetic close to our implants!

    I would agree with "Dewme" that the American Heart Association should be liaising with the manufacturers of similar products to improve this whole area rather than stating the obvious.

    I am sure that the American experience is the same as in the UK that when you have an implant fitted which is affected by magnetic fields, the doctors tell you directly at the time of implant rather than write to the press in a report that it might affect the patient.

    Thereafter you make sure you avoid the problem by not putting your phone in your breast pocket or by going through electronic security gates without advice.


    Alex_VScot1roundaboutnowlongpathjony0CheeseFreezecgWerksleavingthebigg
  • Reply 4 of 15
    MplsPMplsP Posts: 3,433member
    lkrupp said:
    The class action lawyers are drooling over their morning coffee.
    Probably, but this is no different from any other magnet. 

    The other point to note that the article hinted at but didn’t explicitly state is that with rare exceptions, a magnet doesn’t turn off a pacemaker, it causes it to revert to a default backup mode. This mode is intentionally used routinely in surgery where electrocautery can cause interference. 

    With defibrillators a magnet will turn off the defibrillator function which can be a big deal, but only if the patient happens to need it while the magnet is on. Defibrillators are not primary therapies; they’re emergency backups. It’s not good to have a phone in your pocket turn off your defibrillator, but the likelihood of something bad happening is fairly low. 

    In both cases, the device emits a tone, warning that it has sensed the magnet. 

    I’m sure someone will probably sue, but they’d have to show harm which would be difficult. I do think Apple needs to post a warning, though. If for no other reason than to cover their posteriors. 

    Edit: one key difference with an iphone is that you are more likely to put it in your shirt pocket, potentially placing it in close proximity to an implanted device. I agree with Dewme and cognomen42 - the AHA should work with Apple and other phone manufacturers on this.
    edited June 3 Alex_Vzimmiepscooter63
  • Reply 5 of 15
    rob53rob53 Posts: 2,721member
    MplsP said:
    lkrupp said:
    The class action lawyers are drooling over their morning coffee.
    ...
    Edit: one key difference with an iphone is that you are more likely to put it in your shirt pocket, potentially placing it in close proximity to an implanted device. I agree with Dewme and cognomen42 - the AHA should work with Apple and other phone manufacturers on this.
    I see your comment only being applicable to men, women's clothes generally do not have a shirt pocket. Men might put their phone in their coat pocket. which might be too close but people with pacemakers/defibrillators are instructed on what can and what can't be placed anywhere near the heart by their doctors. As for me, I can think of only one time where I put my phone in a shirt pocket. To me this is the worst place to put a $1K device, easy to fall out and easier to be pinched. 
  • Reply 6 of 15
    mknelsonmknelson Posts: 864member
    "For its tests, the American Heart Association chiefly used an iPhone 12 Pro Max. However, the report notes that "[select devices from all three major device companies were found to have magnetic susceptibility.""

    This sentence is confusingly worded. "Chiefly used", followed by "However" and "select devices" could be read as other brands of phone. This study appears to have only used iPhone 12 Pro Max. iPhone 6 was in a previous study. The major device companies are the cardiac implant manufacturers.

    The full paragraph from the article is "Our study demonstrates that magnet reversion mode may be triggered when the iPhone 12 Pro Max is placed directly on the skin over an implantable cardiac device and thus has the potential to inhibit lifesaving therapies. Select devices from all three major device companies were found to have magnetic susceptibility."
    tenthousandthings
  • Reply 7 of 15
    wonkothesanewonkothesane Posts: 1,566member
    To paraphrase: knives can be very dangerous if you pony the sharp edge towards you and push strongly. Sigh. 

    Edit: oh wait, there is also this one, remember?


    In product liability it’s called misuse. 
    edited June 3 longpathjony0cornchipcgWerks
  • Reply 8 of 15
    rcfarcfa Posts: 1,124member
    And why are the pacemakers not properly shielded?

    Induction stoves, metal detectors, phones, magnetic fasteners, etc. are increasingly widespread. To construct pacemakers as if patients were Amish is negligent in itself…
  • Reply 9 of 15
    longpathlongpath Posts: 362member
    rcfa said:
    And why are the pacemakers not properly shielded?

    Induction stoves, metal detectors, phones, magnetic fasteners, etc. are increasingly widespread. To construct pacemakers as if patients were Amish is negligent in itself…
    I was wondering this myself; but a patient with such a device explained a few posts above yours that magnets are used to switch the devices into an alternate mode during the implantation surgery because electrocautery is used, and those electric fields could screw up the devices.
    jony0
  • Reply 10 of 15
    fastasleepfastasleep Posts: 5,837member
    rcfa said:
    And why are the pacemakers not properly shielded?

    Induction stoves, metal detectors, phones, magnetic fasteners, etc. are increasingly widespread. To construct pacemakers as if patients were Amish is negligent in itself…
    Because they're literally designed to respond to magnets. FTFA: "Modern day CIEDs use hall‐effect sensors, magnetosensitive resistors, or telemetry coils that are designed to respond to an external magnetic source."
    MplsPjony0cgWerks
  • Reply 11 of 15
    ivanhivanh Posts: 597member
    In deed my iPhone 11 Pro put a number of ring-shape red mark on my belly in the initial 2-3 iOS versions it ran. The size of the rings match the wireless charging coil inside the iPhone. Am I the only one in the world being burned?
  • Reply 12 of 15
    jibjib Posts: 29member
    rob53 said:
    MplsP said:
    lkrupp said:
    The class action lawyers are drooling over their morning coffee.
    ...
    Edit: one key difference with an iphone is that you are more likely to put it in your shirt pocket, potentially placing it in close proximity to an implanted device. I agree with Dewme and cognomen42 - the AHA should work with Apple and other phone manufacturers on this.
    I see your comment only being applicable to men, women's clothes generally do not have a shirt pocket. Men might put their phone in their coat pocket. which might be too close but people with pacemakers/defibrillators are instructed on what can and what can't be placed anywhere near the heart by their doctors. As for me, I can think of only one time where I put my phone in a shirt pocket. To me this is the worst place to put a $1K device, easy to fall out and easier to be pinched. 
    Fortunately, I do not need a pacemaker/defibrillator, but I have always kept my iPhones (since iPhone 4, and older cell phones before it) in my shirt pocket. For me, no other pocket is as convenient. In all those years, I have dropped the iPhone only a handful of times, with damage only once.

    muthuk_vanalingamcgWerks
  • Reply 13 of 15
    leavingthebiggleavingthebigg Posts: 1,264member
    lkrupp said:
    The class action lawyers are drooling over their morning coffee.
    I was coming to the Comments to type something very similar.
  • Reply 14 of 15
    cgWerkscgWerks Posts: 2,749member
    …Thereafter you make sure you avoid the problem by not putting your phone in your breast pocket or by going through electronic security gates without advice.
    Yeah, I would think that would be the case. If you have one, you’d be well aware and really careful. I guess the problem would be if it weren’t blatantly obvious an iPhone has a pretty strong magnet in it. They should probably have some warnings, but a problem is that companies often issue phones setup and such, so the end user might never see them. It’s well known within the tech community, but the general public?

    rob53 said:
    … As for me, I can think of only one time where I put my phone in a shirt pocket. To me this is the worst place to put a $1K device, easy to fall out and easier to be pinched. 
    Shirt pocket, yes. But, I put my phone in my jacket breast pocket ALL THE TIME! Especially if you live somewhere where the temperature dips low or varies a lot (like, for example San Francisco!) you wear a jacket quite a bit. Most such jackets have an inside breast pocket (which often zips) and is probably the best place to keep an iPhone while out and about.

    What amazes me about this is that Apple seems somewhat caught off-guard, and that they seem to be trying to avoid it (maybe lawyers making them do that). While I realize one can’t think of every possible problem when designing something, this seems pretty obvious. I wouldn’t have known if it would be strong enough to cause an issue or not, but it would have been something I’d have researched while designing.

    What makes this worse (at least IMO) is that it’s a pretty frivolous feature, especially in light of all the justification Apple did in removing the 3.5mm jack to gain precious space. Then they put huge magnets in, just so people can have sticky accessories and wireless charger pads? OK, I’ll admit that maybe someday I’ll actually decide to use the feature since it is there, but it’s darn near the bottom of my want/need list.
  • Reply 15 of 15
    nicholfdnicholfd Posts: 713member
    ivanh said:
    In deed my iPhone 11 Pro put a number of ring-shape red mark on my belly in the initial 2-3 iOS versions it ran. The size of the rings match the wireless charging coil inside the iPhone. Am I the only one in the world being burned?
    Only you and the other nut jobs.

    The iPhone 11 series did not have the magnets the 12 series does.
    edited June 4 muthuk_vanalingam
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