Image source: Apple

Apple recommends avoiding its Watch if using a pacemaker

Apple has updated its product support pages about the potential magnetic interference of its products with medical devices such as a pacemaker. It has now added the Apple Watch to this list along with a number of other products.


iPhone 12 interference

The company has warned about six months ago that the iPhone 12 could cause such problems. The interference with medical devices is compounded if the phone is carried in the upper chest pocket. This is because that particular model has MagSafe features which contains magnets for certain accessories and faster wireless charging.

“If you suspect iPhone or any MagSafe accessories are interfering with your medical device, stop using your iPhone or MagSafe accessories.,” Apple said in January.

Apple recommends avoiding its Watch if using a pacemaker
iPhone 12 Pro

As reported by the American Heart Association, there was a Journal of the American Heart Association report less than a month ago which warned about such things. They tested 14 cardiac devices and found that 11 of them showed interference when an iPhone 12 Max Pro was held within 1.5 cm of them. The issue was there even when the smartphone was sitting in the manufacturer’s sealed package!

This is not the only such study. The HeartRhythm Society also warns about the potential dangers of the iPhone 12 series on medical gear.


Devices on the list

In addition to the Apple Watch, Air Pods and charging cases are now on this list, as are HomePods, iPads, along with Macs and Beats headphones. The update came a few days ago.

The full list is as follows:

  • AirPods and Charging Case (and Wireless Charging Case)
  • AirPods Pro and Wireless Charging Case
  • AirPods Max and Smart Case
  • Apple Watch
  • Apple Watch bands with magnets
  • Apple Watch magnetic charging accessories
  • HomePod
  • HomePod mini
  • iPad (including mini, Air, Pro)
  • iPad Smart Covers and Smart Folios
  • iPad Smart Keyboard and Smart Keyboard Folio
  • Magic Keyboard for iPad
  • iPhone 12 models
  • MagSafe accessories
  • Mac (including mini, Pro, MacBook Air, MacBook Pro, iMac)
  • Apple Pro Display XDR
  • Beats Flex
  • Beats X
  • PowerBeats Pro
  • UrBeats3

What causes the interference?

The problem with the above products is that they contain magnets. Medical devices can be very sensitive to magnets and electromagnetic fields and this may cause them to not work properly.

For example, a pacemaker or implantable cardioverter defibrillator contain sensors that can interact with external magnets and radios when in close vicinity. And these can be found in the Apple Watch and other products.

Needless to say, you want to keep cardiac implantable electronic devices working flawlessly. Some people need them to help keep their heart beating normally.

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This is why Apple recommends to keep the above list of products at least 15 cm (6 inches) away from medical devices. If wirelessly charging, you should keep them at twice that distance – 30 cm (12 inches).

Of course, Apple products are not that different from other manufacturers. So the warning about the potential interference is across-board.

Make sure you are aware of risks of wearing smart wearables, headphones and certain smartphones if you have cardiac implantable electronic devices. Consult your physician and device manufacturer for specific guidelines. Most important of all, if you suspect something is amiss immediately stop using the product.

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