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PSA: phones, MagSafe or not, should be kept away from your pacemaker

PSA: phones, MagSafe or not, should be kept away from your pacemaker


Magnets deactivate implanted magnetic devices, so it’s best to keep them separate

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The magnets mean you can use the phone while it’s wirelessly charging instead of leaving it on the pad.
Photo by Dieter Bohn / The Verge

When it comes to whether MagSafe-enabled iPhones are safe around pacemakers or other implanted medical devices, Apple and medical device makers have the same advice: it should be okay, but it’s best not to risk it.

MacRumors spotted an update to one of Apple’s support documents, where the company advises that iPhones should be kept at least six inches away from a pacemaker or implanted defibrillator during normal use and a foot away if the device is actively using wireless charging (via 9to5Mac).

This advice isn’t specific to the MagSafe phones. Apple says the additional magnets shouldn’t make the phones any more likely to turn off your implanted medical device than any other phone, a sentiment Medtronic, the manufacturer of such devices, seems to agree with. The company released the following statement:

Medtronic has analyzed iPhone technology and found that it presents no increased risk of interference with Medtronic implantable cardiac rhythm devices, such as pacemakers, implantable defibrillators (ICDs), and cardiac resynchronization therapy defibrillators (CRT-Ds), when used according to labeling.

Both Apple’s update and Medtronic’s statement come after a recently released study in which a researcher was able to deactivate a patient’s implanted defibrillator by holding an iPhone 12 directly over the device. It’s worth noting that the study was only carried out on one person and didn’t show if the same results would have occurred with a non-MagSafe device.

Implanted medical devices deactivating when magnets are held over them isn’t anything new. In fact, it’s expected behavior. The devices are built to deactivate when a magnet is held over them, and doctors should always inform patients about the risks and necessary precautions when they’re using an implanted medical device. Apple’s documentation advises you to “consult with your physician and your device manufacturer for specific guidelines.”

But in case it’s been a while since you talked to your doctor, here’s your reminder: it’s best to keep any electronic devices away from your implanted medical devices, whether or not they explicitly include magnets. There’s never a good time for your heart to stop beating like it should.