Henry Ford docs say iPhone 12 can disable pacemakers, defibrillators

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Apple says the phone could interfere with medical devices. (Photo: Getty)

Magnets and other components inside iPhone 12 devices could disable pacemakers or implanted cardiac defibrillators, tech giant Apple warned, potentially putting millions of people at risk for dangerous heart complications. 

The problem was identified by cardiologists at the Henry Ford Heart and Vascular Institute, who discovered that the batteries inside iPhone 12 devices and MagSafe chargers emit electromagnetic fields that can disable or interfere with implanted defibrillators and pacemakers, the health system announced late Wednesday.

Gurjit Singh was among the doctors who wrote about the problem in a letter to the editor published in the medical journal HeartRhythm, calling it “an important public health issue concerning the newer-generation iPhone 12, which potentially can inhibit lifesaving therapy in a patient, particularly when the phone is carried in an upper chest pocket.”

The letter urges medical device manufacturers and doctors to warn patients about the potential risk of using the iPhone 12 and other smart devices.  

“The findings got the attention of the FDA (U.S. Food and Drug Administration), which regulates medical devices, the Association for the Advancement of Medical Instrumentation, and most notably, Apple itself, which published a warning on its webpage,” Henry Ford said in a news release. 

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Apple recommends that anyone with an implanted cardiac device keep all iPhone 12 products, including the mini, Pro, Pro Max and MagSafe accessories at least 6 inches away from the device, and at least a foot away if the phone is wirelessly charging. 

“Consult your physician and medical device manufacturer for information specific to your medical device and whether you need to maintain a safe distance of separation between your medical device and iPhone or any MagSafe accessories,” Apple warned. “Manufacturers often provide recommendations on the safe use of their devices around wireless or magnetic products to prevent possible interference. If you suspect iPhone or any MagSafe accessories are interfering with your medical device, stop using your iPhone or MagSafe accessories.”

The Free Press reached out to the FDA and to Apple for comment and will update this story with any response that is received. Henry Ford plans a news conference Thursday to discuss its cardiologists’ findings. 

Contact Kristen Shamus: kshamus@freepress.com or follow her on Twitter @kristenshamus. 

Read or Share this story: https://www.usatoday.com/story/tech/2021/02/04/apple-iphone-12-pacemakers-defibrillators/4389285001/



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