Apple warns of magnet risk to pacemakers for most of its major products

Posted:
in iPhone
Apple has published a list of its products that could cause enough magnetic interference to impact medical devices, a page stemming from reports about MagSafe's potential to affect pacemakers.




Apple's MagSafe has been the subject of scrutiny in medical circles since its launch, due to the possibility that its magnets could trigger a pacemaker to perform unwanted actions if held close enough. Following those reports, Apple has published an update to its page warning about medical device interference with more information.

The update, published on Friday and spotted by MacRumors, refreshes an existing support page warning about the increased number of magnets in MagSafe-enabled devices, like the iPhone 12. Rather than just being about iPhone 12 models, the page now talks about magnetic interference by Apple products in a more general sense.

The page retains the warning to users that magnets can affect implanted pacemakers and defibrillators, for example, and to keep Apple products a safe distance away from the medical hardware.

The biggest change to the page is that Apple now lists product ranges that "contain magnets," and to keep the products a "safe distance away from your medical device." The list covers the previously-established iPhone 12 models, as well as MagSafe accessories, but it also covers many more product families.

The list of magnet-containing devices include iPad products and accessories, the Apple Watch and accessories, AirPods and charging cases, HomePod, Macs, MacBooks, and some Beats products.

While covering a majority of Apple's main products, the company also states the list is absent of some other products that do contain magnets, but are "unlikely to interfere with medical devices."

The concern over MagSafe started in January, after three Michigan doctors tested its effects on an implantable cardioverter-defibrillator, which changed mode when within range of an iPhone.

In May an investigation by the FDA concluded that the risk to patients with pacemakers is low, but advises caution. However in June, the American Heart Foundation said MagSafe poses a "clinically significant" risk to cardiac devices.

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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 7
    MplsPMplsP Posts: 3,268member
    It’s prudent of Apple to make this warning, but iPhones are no different from any other magnetic device and anyone with a pacemaker/defibrillator should be more than aware of the need to keep magnets away from the devices. 

    The big problem with iPhones is that many people automatically put them in a breast pocket, close to the standard location of pacemaker generators. 
    davgreg
  • Reply 2 of 7
    lkrupplkrupp Posts: 9,471member
    So when the class action lawsuits start coming in I guess we’ll find out if Apple took this into consideration when developing the MagSafe system. Did Apple consult with medical experts before releasing the products or did they rely on their own research? Why did Apple wait until the subject was brought up by doctors before issuing the warnings? All questions the lawyers will be asking when they ask for a few billions dollars in damages.

  • Reply 3 of 7
    caladaniancaladanian Posts: 297member
    What is the recommended minimum distance? I would guess just a few mm (putting the phone right onto the device)?
  • Reply 4 of 7
    MplsPMplsP Posts: 3,268member
    What is the recommended minimum distance? I would guess just a few mm (putting the phone right onto the device)?
    It depends on how deep the device is implanted, relative vertical placement, chest wall thickness and magnet strength. 

    Pacemakers will emit a tone when they sense a magnet, so you can easily test it if you are concerned
    FileMakerFeller
  • Reply 5 of 7
    MplsPMplsP Posts: 3,268member
    lkrupp said:
    So when the class action lawsuits start coming in I guess we’ll find out if Apple took this into consideration when developing the MagSafe system. Did Apple consult with medical experts before releasing the products or did they rely on their own research? Why did Apple wait until the subject was brought up by doctors before issuing the warnings? All questions the lawyers will be asking when they ask for a few billions dollars in damages.

    How is an iPhone different from a magnetic name tag?

    as I have said before, a suit has to show damages to be successful. Even if a phone was close enough for a device to sense it, virtually all pacemakers activate a backup mode when a magnet is placed and revert to their previous programming once it’s removed. For ICDs, the antiarrhythmic functions are deactivated while the magnet is in place, but the only way that would matter is if someone happened to have a shockable arrhythmia while the magnet was in place. In the remote event it should happen it isn’t a class-action case because there isn’t an entire class of people who’ve been harmed. 
    FileMakerFeller
  • Reply 6 of 7
    GeorgeBMacGeorgeBMac Posts: 10,285member
    What is the recommended minimum distance? I would guess just a few mm (putting the phone right onto the device)?

    The advice I've seen on medical forums is to keep it in a pants pocket rather than a breast pocket where it is next to the implanted device.

    Many of these devices are designed to be programmed magnetically by holding a magnetic device on top of the skin where the pacemaker (or whatever) is implanted.
    The iPhone 12 now has a magnet inside of it.
    You just need to keep that magnet away from the implanted device.    That's not a new requirement for these implanted devices:   those who have them are always advised that magnets should not be near or next to the device.  But it doesn't mean that magnets are a danger to them -- just don't carry a magnet in your breast pocket next to your implanted device.

    But, of course, it'll get spun up and the world will likely panic over the news that  iPhones are a danger to those with implanted devices!
  • Reply 7 of 7
    AppleishAppleish Posts: 371member
    What is the recommended minimum distance? I would guess just a few mm (putting the phone right onto the device)?
    To avoid any potential interactions with these types of medical devices, keep your Apple product a safe distance away from your medical device (more than 6 inches / 15 cm apart or more than 12 inches / 30 cm apart if wirelessly charging). Consult with your physician and your device manufacturer for specific guidelines.

    edited June 28 FileMakerFeller
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