Study Suggests iPods Can Cause Pacemaker Malfunctions

Dennis Faas's picture

A new study has found that iPods and pacemakers can be a harmful mixture.

The idea for such a connection did not initially come from a Cardiovascualar doctor, but from a Michigan teenager. 17-year-old Jay Thaker, whose father wears a pacemaker, approached Dr. Krit Jongnarangsin from the University of Michigan to run some tests on the possibility of pacemaker interference from iPods. (Source:

"We took patients from a pacemaker clinic, got consent, and we put the pacemaker programmer on them to view what was going on inside the pacemaker on a screen," Thaker explained. "And then we took the iPod and held it about two inches above the implant site of the pacemaker." (Source:

For the study, the team held an iPod two inches from the chests of 83 patients for a period of five to 10 seconds. The results showed telemetry interference in 29 percent of patients. In 20 percent of patients, the iPod caused the pacemaker to misread the heart's function. In some cases, interference was detected when the iPod was held as far as 18 inches away, and in one case, the pacemaker stopped working. (Source:

Such results can be detrimental for pacemaker wearers who use iPods. "People commonly strap their iPod to the arm right next to their pacemaker or put it in a shirt pocket. There are quite a few situations where they come in proximity to the pacemaker -- closer than we would like them to," said Thaker. (Source:

Dr. Jongnarangsin pointed out that "most pacemaker patients are not iPod users." He also noted that the connection needs to be studied further. Only iPods were used in the test, and it is unknown whether other portable music players pose similar risks to pacemaker wearers. (Source:

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