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iPads Could Affect Implanted Heart Devices, Early Study Finds
Date:5/9/2013

Last year, research published in the Journal of Neurosurgery: Pediatrics suggested that the iPad 2 can interfere with the settings of magnetically programmable shunt devices in the brain when held within two inches of the technology.

That study reported on a 4-month-old girl with hydrocephalus -- abnormal accumulation of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) in the brain -- who developed a shunt malfunction. This was due to a changed setting of the magnetically programmable valve that regulates the flow of CSF out of the brain cavity, or ventricle. The mother had been using an iPad 2 while holding the infant.

An expert noted how difficult it could be to detect such a malfunction.

"The real problem is that you don't even know; there is no trigger, no light goes off [to alert you]," said Dr. Salvatore Insinga, a neurosurgeon at the Cushing Neuroscience Institute at North Shore-LIJ Health System, in New York. "With all the tech devices people are using now and all the implanted things in patients, this is more of an issue now." Insinga was not associated with either study.

The new heart rhythm device study involved 27 patients at Central Valley Arrhythmia. Just three patients were women. All were at least 50 years old and had implantable cardiac defibrillators, pacemakers or loop recorders (implanted cardiac monitors). The effect of the close presence of an iPad2 on the chest and at reading distance -- at various programming settings on the iPad and on the heart devices -- was noted.

The authors found that almost 19 percent of the patients with defibrillators had interference from the iPad 2. No effects were noted in the people who had implanted pacemakers or the loop recorder.

Gianna Chien said the study had limitations: The sample size was small, and she would like to test a wider variation of heart devices, because most were manufactured by St. Jude Medical.

The bottom line? Insinga at Cushing Neuroscience reco
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