A high school freshman discovered that Apple’s iPad2 may increase cardiac risks in some patients implanted with heart devices.
Gianna Chien, 14, reported her work to more than 8,000 physicians at the Heart Rhythm Society meeting announcing that she found that the iPad2 can interfere with some life-saving cardiac devices due to the iPad’s many internal magnets, according to Bloomberg News. The research was conducted as part of a science fair project.
John Day, head of heart-rhythm services at Intermountain Medical Center in Murray, Utah, and chairman of the panel that reviews scientific papers to be presented at the Denver meeting, told Bloomberg News that Chien’s research offers an important warning to people who have been implanted with defibrillators. Implantable defibrillators are cardiac devices that send an electric shock meant to restart a heart that has stopped beating.
Chien explained that, should a person fall asleep with the iPad2 on his/her chest, the magnets—there are over 30 that hold the device’s cover in place—can “accidentally turn off” the heart device. “I definitely think people should be aware. That’s why I’m presenting the study,” she told Bloomberg News. As a safety precaution, defibrillators are designed to be turned off by magnets.
iPad2’s magnets are not sufficiently powerful to create issues if the device is held in front of the chest; however, Chien found that risks may occur when the device rests against the body, Bloomberg News reported.
In response to Bloomberg News’ request for a comment, Apple spokeswoman, Trudy Muller would only refer to the iPad2’s online product guide, which warns consumers about radio frequency interference and suggests that iPad2 users with pacemakers ensure the device is kept at least six inches away, adding that the device should be turned off in health care facilities when advised to do so by staff or in signage.
Chien’s study involved 26 volunteers with defibrillators. The study revealed that when the iPad 2 was placed on the chests of patients implanted with cardiac devices, “magnet mode” was triggered 30 percent the time; the device did not interfere with four pacemakers or a loop-recorder. Gianna’s father, Walter Chien, a cardiac electrophysiologist, assisted with patient testing coordination, according to Bloomberg News.
In most cases the defibrillators will resume operation when the magnet does not interfere with the device; however, some devices will remain off until the magnet is re-applied or the device is manually reactivated, Gianna said. She suggests patients with iPad2s speak to their physicians to determine if their heart devices are operational, Bloomberg News reported.
For instance, implantable cardiac defibrillators (ICD) are constructed with lead wires that are placed into a major vein and attached to interior heart muscle for the purpose of monitoring heart rhythm and transmitting electric shocks should an irregularity occur. If the device suffers from a defect, the ICD might emit a massive and painful shock or might not deliver a necessary, lifesaving shock to the heart.