Wellness Wednesday: can your iPhone interfere with your cardiac implant?

Wellness Wednesday

SYRACUSE, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — This week’s Wellness Wednesday segment serves as an important heads-up for iPhone users.

Apple has put out a warning, saying some of its smartphones could interfere with life-saving cardiac devices.

The tech giant put out the warning about its iPhone 12 models and its MagSafe accessories, saying the electromagnetic fields may interfere with medical implants.

St. Joseph’s Health’s cardiologist Russell Silverman says it could be an issue if you’re not careful.

“We use magnets on pacemakers and defibrillators all the time,” said Dr. Silverman. Magnets are used to essentially communicate with the devices that are monitoring your heart rhythm.

So therein lies the problem because when you place a magnet over a device such as a pacemaker or a defibrillator, it converts the device so that it doesn’t sense a normal heartbeat.

Dr. Russell Silverman, Director of the Heart Failure Clinic, St. Joseph’s Health

It can prevent a pacemaker from seeing anything around it and it can stop a defibrillator from detecting a bad rhythm. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t use an iPhone 12.

“Recommendations from most manufacturers are that the cell phone can be used on the side of the device,” said Silverman. “As long as it’s 6 inches away.”

If your phone does get too close to your defibrillator implant, a beeping alarm will sound to let you know.

Dr. Silverman says your safest option is to use the phone on the opposite side of where the device is implanted.

The most important thing to remember: don’t carry your phone in your shirt’s breast pocket.

“Get a case, carry it on your belt, carry it in your pants pocket, something other than your breast pocket,” he said.

In Apple’s warning, the company also stated the iPhone 12 models are “not expected to pose a greater risk of magnetic interference to medical devices than prior iPhone models.”

As a rule of thumb, doctors caution you to be mindful of any electronics and medical implants.

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