In 2016, The American Heart Association issued warnings about the potential for cell phones as well as other electronics to cause electromagnetic interference with pacemakers and other implants. Earlier this year, similar warnings were issued specifically for the new Apple iPhone 12 models. Additional research on them confirms the same risks.
This week the Journal of the American Heart Association (JAHA) published its findings from a new study into the potential health risks caused by MagSafe, the magnetic charging system Apple built into every iPhone 12 model. JAHA concluded that the iPhone 12 range “has the potential to inhibit lifesaving therapy.”
07/06 Update: WWDC leaks are picking up pace ahead of the event today, with Bloomberg leaking Apple’s iPhone and iPad plans for iOS/iPadOS 15 as well as iPad hardware upgrades which are likely to have a significant impact on the JAHA’s research. Bloomberg states that Apple “is testing a similar MagSafe system for the iPad Pro.” iPads have not previously used MagSafe. Bloomberg adds that MagSafe on the iPad Pro may also support reverse wireless charging (allowing iPhones/AirPods to charge by putting them on the back of an iPad) which aligns with reports that MagSafe is “getting stronger” for the iPhone 13 range as well. If Apple does go ahead with these moves, the health implications are going to run and run.
The problem stems from Magsafe’s potential to cause electromagnetic interference with cardiac implantable electronic devices (CIEDs), which include pacemakers and defibrillators. JAHA said its tests found that CEIDs can be disrupted by a magnetic field of as little as 10 G [gauss] while “The magnetic field strength of the iPhone 12 Pro Max can be greater than 50 G when in direct contact.”
“Our case series has several clinical implications,” explains JAHA. “People often put their smartphones in a breast pocket over a device which can be in close proximity to CIEDs. This can lead to asynchronous pacing or disabling of anti‐tachycardic therapies.”
JAHA’s findings align with research carried out by the Heart Rhythm Journal in January which warned MagSafe magnets in the iPhone 12 range can “potentially inhibit lifesaving therapy in a patient” and recommended “To avoid any potential interactions with these devices, keep your iPhone and MagSafe accessories a safe distance away from your [CIED] device (more than 6 inches / 15 cm apart or more than 12 inches / 30 cm apart if wirelessly charging).”
Of course, in May, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a warning that ALL smart phones and smart watches have the potential to adversely impact medical implants. Better late than never…