There have been expert warnings about medical implants being vulnerable to cyberattacks and hacking. There have also been warnings (including by Apple) that people with pacemakers and other medical implants should NOT hold or charge Apple iPhones too close to their bodies.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has now issued a warning that cell phones as well as smart watches are capable of messing with medical devices.
FDA Warns that Cell Phone and Smart Watch Magnets Can Affect Medical Devices
(Patrice Wendling | Medscape) – The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is recommending patients and caregivers keep cell phones and smart watches at least 6 inches away from implanted medical devices, such as pacemakers and defibrillators.
Today’s warning comes on the heels of recent research reporting that high field strength magnets in newer smartphones may cause some implanted medical devices to switch to “magnet mode” and suspend normal lifesaving operations until the magnet is moved away.
This, for example, may cause a cardiac defibrillator to be unable to detect tachycardia events, the agency noted. The magnets may also change the operational mode such as turning on asynchronous mode in a pacemaker.
“The FDA is aware of published articles which describe the effect that sufficiently strong magnetic fields can turn on the magnetic safe mode when in close contact,” it said. “The FDA also conducted its own testing on some products that use the high field strength magnet feature and have confirmed the magnetic field is both consistent with the publications and strong enough to turn on the magnetic safety mode of the medical devices in question.”
The American Heart Association has also cautioned that magnetic fields can inhibit the pulse generators for implantable cardioverter-defibrillator and pacemakers.