iPAD 2s Can Interfere with Life-Saving Cardiac Rhythm Devices

New study presented at Heart Rhythm 2013 by California high school freshman found iPad 2s cause electromagnetic interference in 30 percent of patients with cardiac rhythm devices

May 09, 2013

Media Contact

Ken Demith
Heart Rhythm Society

DENVER – A new study shows that iPad 2s can cause magnetic interference with cardiac rhythm devices and suspend life-saving anti-tachycardia therapy in patients. The research was conducted by a 14 year-old high school freshman and presented today at Heart Rhythm 2013, the Heart Rhythm Society’s 34th Annual Scientific Sessions. View the study abstract .

Cardiac rhythm devices, including implantable cardioverter defibrillators (ICDs), can be affected by magnets and radiofrequency energy in products ranging from cell phones to MRI machines. Cardiac devices near magnets can switch to magnet mode and potentially disrupt needed therapy. The effects of electromagnetic interference (EMI) are most often temporary and occur when a magnet is placed in close proximity to the cardiac device. While previous studies have tested EMI in various products and environments, this is the first to look at the iPad 2 as a potential source of interference.

“iPad 2s use magnets to help secure the cover to the tablet. Since people hold tablets so close to their chest, I wanted to see if these magnets could affect cardiac device performance,” said Gianna Chien, a freshman at Lincoln High School in Stockton, Calif., who conducted the study for her science fair project. “Since tablets are becoming more common, I hope these findings will encourage patients who have or may be a candidate for implantable defibrillators to talk to their doctor about precautions if they use a tablet like the iPad 2.”

Twenty-six patients with ICDs held iPad 2s at reading distance and also placed the tablet on their chest to mimic falling asleep while using the iPad 2. While EMI was not detected when the tablet was placed at reading distance, 30 percent of patients had magnet mode triggered when the tablet was placed on their chest. The study also tested four patients with pacemakers and one patient with a loop recorder, though these devices did not show any interference.

Study findings were initially shared at the 55th annual San Joaquin County Science Fair in March, where Chien won second prize in the high school category. She also competed in the Sacramento Regional Science Fair, winning third in the health and chemistry division and a special award from the Society of Biomedical Research. In addition, Chien received Honorable Mention at the California State Science Fair this April. Her father, Walter Chien, MD, is a cardiologist with Central Valley Arrhythmia in Stockton, Calif., and helped coordinate patient testing with his daughter.

Session details: “iPad Use Can Cause Electromagnetic Interference in Patients with Implantable Cardiac Rhythm Devices” [Thursday, May 9, 2013, 9:30 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. MDT, Exhibit Hall]

Heart Rhythm 2013 is the most comprehensive educational program for heart rhythm professionals, featuring more than 8,000 attendees, 250 educational sections and more than 130 exhibitors showcasing innovative products and services. The Heart Rhythm Society’s Annual Scientific Sessions have become the must-attend event of the year, allowing the exchange of new vital ideas and information among colleagues from every corner of the globe.

About the Heart Rhythm Society

The Heart Rhythm Society is the international leader in science, education and advocacy for cardiac arrhythmia professionals and patients, and the primary information resource on heart rhythm disorders. Its mission is to improve the care of patients by promoting research, education and optimal health care policies and standards. Incorporated in 1979 and based in Washington, DC, it has a membership of more than 5,900 heart rhythm professionals in more than 70 countries around the world. For more information, visit www.HRSonline.org .