A new study in the Institute of Physics journal Physics in Medicine and Biology, reveals that the new generation of digital mobile phones can interfere with many types of heart pacemaker. The pacemakers can confuse the signals generated by mobile phones for the hearts own electrical signals, causing the pacemaker to malfunction. The authors of the paper, based in the US and Italy, say that newer pacemakers fitted with a ceramic filter are immune and recommend that all manufacturers use these filters.
Electromagnetic interference between mobile phones and cardiac pacemakers has caused concern among physicians since 1994, when it was reported that mobile phones could cause the life-saving implants to malfunction. Early studies found various pacemakers susceptible to interference and the researchers suggested wearers should keep a safe distance from mobile phones. The studies did not look at the cause of the interference, however, so it was not known which pacemaker wearers were most at risk.
Biomedical engineer Giovanni Calcagnini of the Italian Institute of Health in Rome explains that some electrical components of the pacemakers act like an aerial. They can pick up undesirable radio frequency signals and transmit them to the pacemakers sensitive electronic circuits. He and his colleagues at the Center for Devices and Radiological Health of the Food and Drug Administration, in Rockville, Maryland, USA, have investigated exactly how radio frequency signals of the kind used by modern mobile phones are transmitted to the pacemakers internal components.
Michelle Cain | alfa
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