Pacemakers are some of the most impressive things that medical tech has achieved since its inception, and the small device has saved countless lives since then. Though, one significant problem with pacemakers’ core design is that it is vulnerable to electromagnetic interference. Based on this understanding, Apple asked its customers who use pacemakers to keep their iPhone 12 devices far away from the pacemaker. The idea was that the electromagnetic interference from the smartphone would impact how the pacemaker functions. In an attempt to confirm this, two US cardiologists had conducted a study on the impact of iPhone 11 devices on pacemakers, and the results from the survey are not optimistic.
As a part of the study, the cardiologists leading the experiment had brought the new iPhone 12 close to the patient’s chest. Contrary to expectations, the device’s external defibrillator programmer paused its function and resumed its operation only when the smartphone was taken away. The scientists added that they were not expecting the small magnets on the iPhone 12 device to be capable of stopping an external defibrillator and said that they were stunned. The findings from the study have been published in the HearthRhythm medical journal. The author of the study, Dr. Gurjit Singh, has published papers on the same topic in the past. He is also considered an expert when it comes to defibrillators and pacemakers.
“We believe our findings have profound implications on a large scale for the people who live daily with these devices, who without thinking, will place their phone in their shirt pocket or upper pocket or their coat – not knowing that it can cause their defibrillator or pacemaker to function in a way that could potentially be lethal,” said Dr. Gurjit Singh and his colleagues in the paper. Now that we have scientific data to support the warnings provided by Apple, customers who use a pacemaker or defibrillator should be more careful while placing their iPhone 12 devices on the front pocket. The problem occurs because Apple has used an increased number of magnets while designing the back panel of the iPhone 12 devices.
It is also worth noting that Apple had warned users about this problem when it released the iPhone models that contain the MagSafe charging functionality. However, the issue was not brought as a significant problem as such. Instead, Apple asked users to be “careful,” a claim that sounds oversimplified and threatening based on what Dr. Gurjit Singh and his colleagues have unveiled through the experiment. Considering that the core magnetics in the MagSafe charging system can practically stop the pacemaker or defibrillator from working as it should, the issue must have been explored by Apple a little deeper.
As Dr. Gurjit has mentioned in the study, more than 300,000 people undergo surgeries that place one of the pacemakers or defibrillators on their body. Considering that Apple iPhone 12 models contribute to a substantial share of the user-base, this is an issue that needs serious discussions