(Photo: The Canadian Press)
The magnets that charge the new generation of iPhones faster than ever are powerful enough to interfere with devices whose role is to see to the normal functioning of the heart, computer giant Apple recently warned.
Cardiostimulators (pacemakers) and defibrillators may contain sensors that react to magnets that approach them, Apple said. The company recommends keeping a distance of at least six inches between the phone and the heart device, or even one foot if the phone is being charged wirelessly.
“The iPhone 12 series has a stronger magnet than the old phones, to be able to charge faster,” explained Dr. François Philippon, of the University Institute of Cardiology and Pneumology of Quebec. Since this magnet is stronger, it has a little more potential to interfere with defibrillators and pacemakers. ”
Defibrillators and pacemakers are designed so that they can be disabled temporarily with a magnet, for example if they fail or if the patient needs surgery.
This is what can happen, this time inadvertently, if the patient places his phone in his shirt pocket or in his jacket pocket too close to his heart device.
A known phenomenon
In the case of a defibrillator that would have been accidentally “turned off” in this way, the device could therefore not intervene if ever the heart was racing in a dangerous way.
“There has been a case reported in the medical literature where an iPhone 12 was able to interact when placed in direct contact with the defibrillator,” added Dr. Philippon, who chairs the medical devices committee. from the Canadian Rhythm Society.
Other types of phones can interfere with these devices, not just iPhones, but obviously, “the bigger the magnet, the more the possibility of interference can be magnified,” he added.
Doctors and manufacturers of phones and medical devices have known about this risk almost from day one, but the power of the magnet with which the iPhone 12 is equipped brings the phenomenon back to the fore.
“It’s a reminder for patients who have this type of device there to be careful, this new generation is more likely to cause interference because the magnet is much more powerful,” said the doctor Philippon.