Last May, a widely reported study concluded that errant electronic noise from iPods can cause implantable cardiac pacemakers to malfunction. This just didnt sound right to the cardiac electrophysiologists at Childrens Hospital Boston, whove seen hundreds of children, teens and young adults with heart conditions requiring pacemakers. Many of our pacemaker patients have iPods and other digital music players, and weve never seen any problem, says Charles Berul, MD, director of the Pacemaker Service at Childrens. But kids and parents bring up this concern all the time, prompting us to do our own study.
Between September and December, 2007, Gregory Webster, MD, a cardiac fellow in training at Childrens, along with the electrophysiology nurses and physicians, ran tests on 51 patients coming in for appointments. Whereas last years study was done in patients averaging 77 years of age, the average age in the Childrens study was 22 (ranging from 6 to 60). All patients had active pacemakers or implantable cardioverter-defibrillators (ICDs), which were tested against four digital music players two kinds of iPods (Apple Nano and Apple Video), SanDisk Sansa and Microsoft Zune. All patients were lying down during the tests (in case an arrhythmia occurred, causing them to faint), and each digital player was placed directly over the pacemaker or ICD.
As reported in the April 2008 issue of the journal Heart Rhythm, accompanied by an editorial, there was no interference with intrinsic device functioning patients EKG (electrocardiographic) recordings showed no change in any of 255 separate tests, and no patients had symptoms. This provides reassuring evidence that should allay the fears of people using iPods and other digital music players, says Berul, the studys senior investigator.
However, in 41 percent of patients, the music players interfered with telemetry, or communications between the programmer and the pacemaker or ICD itself. (The programmer
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Children's Hospital Boston