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Interference of iPad 2 with Heart Implants
Apple iPads have become very popular and they can be seen everywhere. You would see almost every second person using the iPad, be it small school going children or adults, before going to bed. Have you even pondered how safe it is for such indiscriminate use? A young 14-year old researcher has conducted a study which proves that iPad 2 might interfere with implanted heart devices.
Gianna Chien, a high school freshman, from Lincoln High School in Stockton, California presented her research findings to about 8000 doctors at the Heart Rhythm Society’s Annual Scientific Sessions conference in Denver. Gianna Chien worked on the study with assistance from her father Dr. Walter Chien, a cardiologist with Central Valley Arrhythmia, California. The study was conducted on 26 patients and all of them had implantable cardioverter defibrillators (ICDs). Implantable cardioverter defibrillators are devices that help in controlling heart rhythm in patients who are at a risk of sudden cardiac death. Patients who have ICDs have irregular heart beat and the ICDs help in maintaining a normal rhythm by using electrical impulses. The ICDs have a safety feature wherein they are turned off by magnets.
For the study the 26 participants (with ICDs) were first asked to hold the iPad 2 at a reading distance. Next they were asked to keep the iPad 2 on their chest to mimic the act of falling asleep while reading something on the iPad.
It was observed that the magnet mode was triggered in 30% of the patients under study when they placed the iPad 2 on their chest. No interference was observed with four pacemakers and a loop recorder which were also part of the study. Two of the participants exhibited magnet mode trigger and another participant exhibited magnet mode trigger followed by a non-invasive program stimulation mode.
As a rule, most defibrillators turn back on once the magnet is removed from the vicinity. However, certain defibrillators remain off till the time the magnet is reapplied or the device is again turned on manually. Chien therefore suggests that patients should be made aware of the risks and the doctors should also check the defibrillators to ensure that they have not been turned off accidentally.
The study is very important in a way that it creates awareness about the danger of using the iPad 2 in a specific setting. However, this does not imply that patients with defibrillators should not use the iPad. The study only aims at cautioning them about the dangers associated with the device when the patient unknowingly sleeps with it.