People with cardiac devices installed should be vigilant about keeping a safe distance from smartphones, if they want to avoid temporary malfunctions or painful shocks, according to researchers.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and device manufacturers recommend a distance of at least 15 to 20 cm between pacemakers and smartphones. Of course, the study was conducted using mobile devices about 10 years ago, and there has been a mobile network change from GSM to LTE and UMTS - but there is still risk when dialing and connecting to a network, and not while talking on the phone.
People with pacemakers installed can still use a smartphone, but make sure it's not placed "directly over" the cardiac device, according to researchers.
"Pacemakers can mistakenly detect electromagnetic interference (EMI) from smartphones as a cardiac signal, causing them to briefly stop working," said Dr. Carsten Lennerz, cardiology resident at the Clinic for Heart and Circulatory Diseases at the German Heart Center. "This leads to a pause in the cardiac rhythm of the pacing dependent patient and may result in syncope [fainting]."
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