The European Heart Rhythm Association, Cardiostim is currently meeting in Milan. One of the papers presented deals with the effect of smartphone ( which we all have one or two nowadays ) and their effect on pacemakers and other implantable cardiac devices like AICD and CRT pacers. These cardiac implantable devices are basically triggered by EMW ( electromagnetic waves ) and the smartphones emit EMW. What may happen is that the smartphone may emit EMW and the cardiac device may pick up the signal and stop firing causing bradycardia and syncope, or the ICD may fire and cause an unnecessary painful shock.
Dr Carsten Lennerz and colleague from the German Heart Center studied 308 patients who had implantable cardiac devices like pacemakers, AICDs and also CRT ( Cardiac resynchronisation therapy ). They tested 3 types of smartphones in near proximity to these implantable devices. The smartphone tested were the Nokia Luminia, Samsung Galaxy S III, and the HTC one XL. They administered 3,400 stimulations on the 308 devices ( 147 pacemakers, 96 ICDs and 65 CRT ). They found that of the 3,400 stimulation tests, only one test found interfernece, meaning that the chance of interference is low.
However the authors did not see it fit to alter the standard FDA advise on implantable cardiac devices and smartphone, which is to hold the smartphone about 15-20 cm away from the implantable cardiac devices. For example, to hold the smartphone to the opposite ear from the implantable device. And of course never to store the smartphone in the pocket on the same side as the implantable cardiac device.
This is to serve as a reminder since we have more and more smartphone users and also more and more patients having implantable cardiac devices.