Elderly iPod users skip a beat

11 May 2007

Apple’s iPod interferes with the electromagnetic functioning of heart monitoring devices, according to a study carried out on 100 pacemaker wearers with the average age of 77.

The study, led by Jay Thaker, a US high school student, whose father is an electrophysiologist and mother is a rheumatologist, concluded that iPod interaction with pacemakers can lead to a misdiagnosis in heart function.

No other portable media devices apart from the iPod were used in this study, which was carried out at the Thoracic and Cardiovascular Institute at Michigan State in the US.

Results found that 50pc of the time electrical interference was detected when the iPod was held two inches away from the pacemaker wearers chest for a period of five to ten seconds.

In a few cases the iPod was still causing interference when held up to 18 inches from the chest, and in one case the pacemaker stopped working completely.

Dr Krit Jongnarangsin, senior author of the study, said that this kind of test had never been carried out before because it was never really an issue, being that most pacemaker wearers tend not to have an iPod.

A study carried out in 1997 showed that mobile phones can cause temporary interference with a pacemaker and even cause irregular heart rhythm.

With advances in pacemaker technology users are generally told by mobile phone manufacturers that they are safe to use, only to avoid placing the handset in a shirt pocket where it could rest directly over the pacemaker.

By Marie Boran