MacRumors

macrumors bot
Original poster
Apr 12, 2001
53,506
15,224


Earlier this year, three doctors in Michigan found that iPhone 12 models can "potentially inhibit lifesaving therapy in a patient" due to the MagSafe system causing magnetic interference with implantable medical devices, like pacemakers.

magsafecasedangle.jpg

Following its own testing, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration this week announced that while certain newer cell phones, smart watches, and other electronics with magnets may temporarily affect the normal operation of implanted medical devices, such as pacemakers and implantable defibrillators, the risk to patients is "low." The FDA added it is "not aware of any adverse events associated with this issue at this time."

However, the FDA has advised patients with implanted medical devices to consider taking the following precautions:
  • Keeping consumer electronics, such as certain cell phones and smart watches, six inches away from implanted medical devices.
    Refraining from carrying consumer electronics in a pocket over the medical device.
    Talking to your health care provider if you have questions regarding magnets in consumer electronics and implanted medical devices.
The FDA's precautions are in line with guidelines shared by Apple, which advises customers to keep their iPhone and MagSafe accessories more than six inches away from their medical device, or more than 12 inches apart if the iPhone is being wirelessly charged. Apple says to consult with a physician and the device manufacturer for specific guidelines.

The FDA's announcement was highlighted earlier by 9to5Mac.

Article Link: FDA Says Risk of MagSafe Interference With Pacemakers is Low
 

ctdonath

macrumors 68000
Mar 11, 2009
1,539
530
As someone with a pacemaker, let me clarify:

"Interfere" means anything that causes anomalous/undesired behavior, however petty. Placing a magnet on a pacemaker will override normal operation, flipping to a default pacing rate (60 BPM). This is intentional, so medical personnel can force the device to a stable & reasonable state if anything is awry [insert personal anecdote]. This isn't bad, it's just little more than an annoyance. Simply removing the magnet will restore normal device operation.
 

nwcs

macrumors 68020
Sep 21, 2009
2,119
3,134
Tennessee
It all sounds quite reasonable as guidance. In fact, I think most of that guidance pre-existed these scenarios that are emerging. However it does point out the need for these companies (not just Apple) to consider some broader ramifications of minor tech improvements.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Jovijoker

axantas

macrumors 6502a
Jun 29, 2015
619
621
Home
In fact it is all about some general knowledge about yourself and your health status. One might place a magnetic iPhone in the pocket of their jacket. Knowing there is a pacemaker right there behind that pocket might be a reason, not to do that, instead of declaring that magnet as "dangerous". So, a wise decision of the FDA.

Anyone thinking about to declare hazelnuts as dangerous, because there are quite some allergic reactions?
 
  • Like
Reactions: cmcbhi

nt5672

macrumors 68020
Jun 30, 2007
2,284
4,879
it has been awhile since the FDA was anything but a big business mouthpiece, so I am not surprised. Wonder what the science says?
 
  • Like
Reactions: MorganHiller

1258186

Cancelled
Feb 5, 2021
813
1,005
In fact it is all about some general knowledge about yourself and your health status. One might place a magnetic iPhone in the pocket of their jacket. Knowing there is a pacemaker right there behind that pocket might be a reason, not to do that, instead of declaring that magnet as "dangerous". So, a wise decision of the FDA.

Anyone thinking about to declare hazelnuts as dangerous, because there are quite some allergic reactions?
The FDA are right to make the general public aware of any potential risks. My father had a pacemaker, he also had dementia so he wouldn’t remember any safety advice he was given.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Jovijoker and NMBob

IllinoisCorn

macrumors 6502a
Jan 15, 2021
535
658
Hint: if MagSafe chargers were a risk to pacemakers, Apple would be sued into oblivion.

Same with the AirTages OH MY GOD YOU CAN STALK SOMEONE!!! stories.

Overblown trash.
 

burgman

macrumors 68020
Sep 24, 2013
2,246
1,811
As someone with a pacemaker, let me clarify:

"Interfere" means anything that causes anomalous/undesired behavior, however petty. Placing a magnet on a pacemaker will override normal operation, flipping to a default pacing rate (60 BPM). This is intentional, so medical personnel can force the device to a stable & reasonable state if anything is awry [insert personal anecdote]. This isn't bad, it's just little more than an annoyance. Simply removing the magnet will restore normal device operation.
As if you can speak to all models, age, and battery condition of pacemakers in the world.
 

jimac

macrumors member
Dec 18, 2005
33
26
I've got a defibrillator and for years my doctors often warned me against leaky old microwave ovens, like the 30+ year-old Mongomery Ward one that I still use every day, and against metal detectors, which I encounter fairly often. But they've never seemed too worried about the magnets in any of the devices that I carry or that they are using when I'm visiting the cardiology clinic.

And as for Gerry Marsden, I listen to the Pacemakers all the time on iTunes or Apple Music. I applauded his memory along with the Liverpool FC team and everyone else before a recent game at Anfield. iTunes has some nice music videos of Gerry and the Pacemakers. I'm a Chelsea FC fan, but I've always enjoyed Liverpool fans singing Gerry's rendition of "You'll Never Walk Alone".
 

chris1958

macrumors member
Jan 9, 2018
74
63
Hint: if MagSafe chargers were a risk to pacemakers, Apple would be sued into oblivion.

Same with the AirTages OH MY GOD YOU CAN STALK SOMEONE!!! stories.

Overblown trash.
Who would sue Apple. Probably the victims of those MagSafe chargers. Since the majority of user are lucky not to need a pacemaker, there may be a handful of victims - probably not enough for lawyers to start a class-action lawsuit. Even if Apple would pay 1 million to every victim's family they would hardly notice.
 

DJCoolGuy

macrumors newbie
Jun 29, 2017
8
14
What worries me are the AICDs not the pacemaker. The automatic defibrillators will not fire if a magnet is over them so if you had one of these phones in your short pocket and went into a dangerous arrhythmia, it would let you die instead of shocking you back into the right rhythm.

for example, people in hospice who have an AICD we put a magnet on their chest to allow them to die in peace instead of getting shocked at the time of death.
 

phenste

macrumors regular
Sep 16, 2012
184
639
Jesus CHRIST, I’m more worried about that 12 Pro dangling upside-down from a MagSafe charger than I am about these potential risks.
 

axantas

macrumors 6502a
Jun 29, 2015
619
621
Home
The FDA are right to make the general public aware of any potential risks. My father had a pacemaker, he also had dementia so he wouldn’t remember any safety advice he was given.
Yes, absolutely agree. Advice about potential danger, so anyone can act accordingly or be assisted like your father.
Unfortunately nowadays far to often a product gets kind of doomed because of potential risks, instead of just "pay attention on the possible risks".
 
  • Like
Reactions: 1258186

henryhbk

macrumors regular
Jul 26, 2002
109
70
Boston
As if you can speak to all models, age, and battery condition of pacemakers in the world.
Actually as a physician, I will. He is correct. That is a feature of every pacemaker. Everyone of our “crash carts” at the hospital has a big ol’ neodymium magnet stuck on the side for code-blues as every pacemaker produced in the last 30 years has this feature of a magnet-induced-reset. For instance many years ago I had a patient with an inplmanted defibrillator that was going off every minute or so (luckily it was still delivering synchronized shocks, despite being in some sort of confused state so while painful as hell, he wasn’t dead), so we dropped a magnet over the can and that stopped until cardiology could come do their thing.

And not only does a permanent magnet do that, but the “programmer” (which resembles that OneLaptop caomputer) has a big inductive magnetic ring as the interface (for devices that aren’t internet connected 🤮)
 

henryhbk

macrumors regular
Jul 26, 2002
109
70
Boston
What worries me are the AICDs not the pacemaker. The automatic defibrillators will not fire if a magnet is over them so if you had one of these phones in your short pocket and went into a dangerous arrhythmia, it would let you die instead of shocking you back into the right rhythm.

for example, people in hospice who have an AICD we put a magnet on their chest to allow them to die in peace instead of getting shocked at the time of death.
That risk is lower compared to the pacemaker. There are 2 sort of modes that these devices are used in: continuous and backup. In other words if you have have an underlying rhythm of 3rd-degree heart block with slow escape rate, the. You are pacer dependent. On the other hand a defibrillator is like a fire extinguisher so the chance of you having a shockable rhythm in the moment you have your iPhone 12 in your pocket should be low (unless you got startled by siri joining your video call 🤬). My mother has a pacemaker for backup as she w=has what we call “tachy-Brady syndrome) so her pacemaker only paced her like 15-20% of the time, when she ends up as a pause, so if she went into a MRI scanner it would shut off but she’s be fine given the chance of her flipping rhythms in that w0 minutes is remarkably low.
 

henryhbk

macrumors regular
Jul 26, 2002
109
70
Boston
Hint: if MagSafe chargers were a risk to pacemakers, Apple would be sued into oblivion.

Same with the AirTages OH MY GOD YOU CAN STALK SOMEONE!!! stories.

Overblown trash.
Not really, they are a real risk. I mean Gif continues to make peanut butter which is clearly lethal to some people. It’s more that billions of cellphones don’t have a giant magnet, while a specific model does. So someone who has a pacemaker might not be aware, but a large permanent magnet is a legitimate risk to ICD/Pacemaker/cortical-stimulators/etc, but if you warn the person they can just keep it in their pants pocket.
 
Register on MacRumors! This sidebar will go away, and you'll see fewer ads.