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Apple's warning to keep the iPhone 12 away from cardiac devices due to electromagnetic interference was further underlined by U.S. cardiologists this week in a new report (via NBC25 News).

iphone12magsafe.jpg

Apple's iPhone 12 series includes an array of magnets that help align the phone on Apple's MagSafe charging accessory to maximize charging, and Apple already advises users with implanted pacemakers and defibrillators to keep iPhone and MagSafe‌ accessories a safe distance away from such devices.

To test the extent of the risk, Henry Ford Heart and Vascular Institute cardiologist Gurjit Singh and his colleagues recently carried out further testing to see just how much of an influence the Apple products have.

According to Dr. Singh, more than 300,000 people in the U.S. undergo surgery to implant one of these devices each year, and around one in four smartphones sold last year was an iPhone 12. The cardiac devices have switches that respond to an external magnet to change how the device functions, which allows them to be controlled without the requirement of surgery.

Curious about potential interference with electrical devices, Dr. Singh and his colleagues took an iPhone 12 Pro and passed it over the chest of a patient with an implantable defibrillator.
"When we brought the iPhone close to the patient's chest the defibrillator was deactivated," said Dr. Singh. "We saw on the external defibrillator programmer that the functions of the device were suspended and remained suspended. When we took the phone away from the patient's chest, the defibrillator immediately returned to its normal function."

"We were all stunned," he said. "We had assumed that the magnet would be too weak in a phone to trip the defibrillator’s magnetic switch."
The findings are significant, since Dr. Singh is an expert in the use of devices such as implantable defibrillators that detect an irregular heartbeat and shock the heart back into a normal rhythm, and pacemakers that use electricity to keep the heart beating. Following the discovery, Dr. Singh and his colleagues immediately submitted a report of their findings to the HeartRhythm medical journal that was published on January 4, 2021.
"We believe our findings have profound implications on a large scale for the people who live daily with these devices, who without thinking, will place their phone in their shirt pocket or upper pocket or their coat – not knowing that it can cause their defibrillator or pacemaker to function in a way that could potentially be lethal."

The comments underline medical evidence published in January which cautioned that ‌iPhone 12‌ models and related MagSafe devices can "potentially inhibit lifesaving therapy in a patient" due to magnetic interference with implanted medical devices. Apple provides more information about this issue in the "Important safety information for iPhone" section of the ‌iPhone‌ User Guide.

Article Link: Medical Doctors Underline Potential Risk of iPhone 12 Interference With Pacemakers
 
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Piggie

macrumors G3
Feb 23, 2010
8,731
3,300
I could see a potential bedtime scenario that you'd need to be sure never happened.
And I'm 100% sure the following scenario has happened to hundreds if not thousands of people many times.

Laying in bed, tired, messing with your phone, and you drift off to sleep, your hands flop down and your phone lands on your chest.

Have to be sure you never ever put yourself in such a situation with one of these phones.
Must be 1000's of people every single night in bed, laying down doing this exact thing.
 
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evansls

macrumors regular
Jul 18, 2004
120
83
Leesburg, VA
I never put my electronic devices on my chest, even before there were magnets, and rarely do I ever try to hold my phone up to my head. I try to always hold it out in front while on speaker or use headset. People who place their phones on their chest and have pacemakers, I would assume doctors tell them to put no electronics anywhere near their body even before iPhones had strong magnets.

For example, there are hundreds of scenarios to stay away from including metal detectors according to heart.org


Meanwhile, Apple needs MagSafe, because it will replace the lightening connector on iPhones one day. Their “Works with iPhone“ must remain, but it will extend to MagSafe otherwise Apple would lose huge licensing fees to their proprietary lightening cables if they cut over to usb-c on iPhones. Yes, they did cut over to usb-c for the iPad, but that was because iPads requires more power than their handheld miniatures.

Note: MacRumors needs to do an article about how Doctors inform their patients about their lifestyle changes they must adopt now that they have a pacemaker. Writing an article, like the one they did, should include language about bringing attention to something that people already do today and that is respecting their new life by keeping ALL electronics away from their chest if you have a pacemaker. Otherwise, writing an article like this only creates confusion to those reading it when in reality, it’s an issue for nearly any electronic device including headphones.
 
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dz5b609

macrumors 6502
Mar 22, 2019
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I could see a potential bedtime scenario that you'd need to be sure never happened.
And I'm 100% sure the following scenario has happened to hundreds if not thousands of people many times.

Laying in bed, tired, messing with your phone, and you drift off to sleep, your hands flop down and your phone lands on your chest.

Have to be sure you never ever put yourself in such a situation with one of these phones.
Must be 1000's of people every single night in bed, laying down doing this exact thing.
And how many of those have pacemakers and how many of those with pacemakers will need that pacemaker that exact night. Let's not act like this is some extremely dangerous scenario, it's just (another) thing people with pacemakers need to adjust to.
 
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Azeroth1

macrumors 6502
Apr 20, 2010
267
605
I’m just wondering what that patient must have thought about that experiment.

“Fascinating. And if I move it in this pattern, his device plays Swoosh. Let’s try another.”.
 
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Whathappened

macrumors 6502
Mar 15, 2018
351
402
please Apple get rid of that magnet. It is not important how fast we charge wirelessly as long as you provide one day battery life. Most of us charge overnight. My car has a (slow) charging mat, my office has one, the phone is being charged all the time.
 
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MauiPa

macrumors 68020
Apr 18, 2018
2,260
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I could see a potential bedtime scenario that you'd need to be sure never happened.
And I'm 100% sure the following scenario has happened to hundreds if not thousands of people many times.

Laying in bed, tired, messing with your phone, and you drift off to sleep, your hands flop down and your phone lands on your chest.

Have to be sure you never ever put yourself in such a situation with one of these phones.
Must be 1000's of people every single night in bed, laying down doing this exact thing.
Well only fault in your analysis is that you are warned, instructed, educated not to bring magnets, radios or anything with emf near your device. I know, I have one, I’m not just making crap up. In fact, they use magnets and magnetic devices to read your implant and test it so, ya know, unless you are a complete ignorer of things, have a device, keep magnets, phones, radios away from it, don’t go in rooms with strong radio interference, don’t go through magnetic scanners at airports, never get an MRI
 
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MauiPa

macrumors 68020
Apr 18, 2018
2,260
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please Apple get rid of that magnet. It is not important how fast we charge wirelessly as long as you provide one day battery life. Most of us charge overnight. My car has a (slow) charging mat, my office has one, the phone is being charged all the time.
And how about other phones and radios? Seriously, if you have a device implanted you should be aware of the issues faced by lots of things with radios, magnets, emf. So nice touch, but one model of phone is not the only issue those of us who have a device face. Plus you have to have it in close proximity to device, just like a device reader/programmer for your device. Simply holding a device over your ear or in your hands to type or read - not a problem, sorry
 
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adamlbiscuit

macrumors 6502
Sep 22, 2008
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South Yorkshire, UK
My mum had a pacemaker fitted in 2019. Around that time she owned an original iPhone SE (2016), and even then she was told to keep it well away from her chest. This advice isn't new to the iPhone 12 at all, or at least in my mums case it wasn't.

She took the advice to heart (no pun intended) and since always kept her phone in a bag rather than a pocket, and even used the phone on loud speaker during phone calls (which you could argue is overkill but she likes to play it safe & who could blame her).

She now has an iPhone 12 mini & hasn't changed her handling of the device when compared to the SE. Point is, if you have a pacemaker fitted you're usually advised to keep any mobile device a safe distance from it and this was the case well before the iPhone 12.

That said, as someone whose mother has a pacemaker fitted I'm always grateful to see this issue highlighted. I just think it's worth pointing this out as a lot of people may mistakenly think this is unique to iPhone 12 models & it isn't. It's simply the case that the magnets are an additional thing to bear in mind, in a long list of reasons why you should keep any phone a safe distance from such devices.
 
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iamPro

macrumors regular
May 15, 2009
218
131
I am no expert I this area, but my natural response to this is, how are other phones with pacemakers? Is it particularly dangerous with iPhone 12 due to the magnets? So would the iPhone cause trouble at a much closer distance than other smartphones without MagSafe? I’m sure other phones may potentially cause problems, but the question is how much more dangerous is the iPhone 12?
 
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henryhbk

macrumors regular
Jul 26, 2002
113
71
Boston
So it is important to differentiate between danger to a patient that is pacer dependent versus a patient who has a pacemaker as backup for an intermittent condition (note: I am a doctor). For instance if you are constantly pacer dependent (i.e. for whatever reason your sinus node isn't doing a proper job establishing your heart rate/rhythm) then this could be deadly (depending on what your non-paced escape rhythm is). Versus for instance if once in a blue moon your heart rate becomes dangerously slow and you faint, then it's not going to cause a problem (given the probability of you needing the pacer backup at the exact moment you place your iPhone 12 on your chest).

Modern pacemakers (or electronics in general) are remarkably resistant to EMI (particularly since most pacemakers now are internet connected, they certainly can handle cellular/wifi signals nearby since they themselves generate wifi or BT). The magnet is a specific off-switch (that's a feature, like when I want to take an EKG of a patient with a pacemaker and want to see the underlying heart itself, I put a ring shaped magnet (we leave them stuck on the side of the EKG cart) so the pacemaker shuts off, so we can see, then after the procedure I remove the magnet. i make the same calculation of risk when I place the order for the EKG as to whether you can safely deactivate the pacer for a little while to do the EKG (some patients yes, some no)
 
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henryhbk

macrumors regular
Jul 26, 2002
113
71
Boston
It's because the devices have a specific magnet switch (so you can non-invasively turn it off). It's not like the device isn't shielded or something. So yes any strong magnet would do it, and that's a feature not a sensitivity of the device.
 
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Glideslope

macrumors 604
Dec 7, 2007
7,042
4,328
The Adirondacks.
I could see a potential bedtime scenario that you'd need to be sure never happened.
And I'm 100% sure the following scenario has happened to hundreds if not thousands of people many times.

Laying in bed, tired, messing with your phone, and you drift off to sleep, your hands flop down and your phone lands on your chest.

Have to be sure you never ever put yourself in such a situation with one of these phones.
Must be 1000's of people every single night in bed, laying down doing this exact thing.

I was actually thinking about your MagSafe Charger being on the night stand next to you while you sleep. How close is too close?
The "don't put in your shirt pocket" IMO, would apply to any phone.

I'd like to see more distance data.
 
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Apple_Robert

macrumors Penryn
Sep 21, 2012
28,347
35,861
In the middle of several books.
So it is important to differentiate between danger to a patient that is pacer dependent versus a patient who has a pacemaker as backup for an intermittent condition (note: I am a doctor). For instance if you are constantly pacer dependent (i.e. for whatever reason your sinus node isn't doing a proper job establishing your heart rate/rhythm) then this could be deadly (depending on what your non-paced escape rhythm is). Versus for instance if once in a blue moon your heart rate becomes dangerously slow and you faint, then it's not going to cause a problem (given the probability of you needing the pacer backup at the exact moment you place your iPhone 12 on your chest).

Modern pacemakers (or electronics in general) are remarkably resistant to EMI (particularly since most pacemakers now are internet connected, they certainly can handle cellular/wifi signals nearby since they themselves generate wifi or BT). The magnet is a specific off-switch (that's a feature, like when I want to take an EKG of a patient with a pacemaker and want to see the underlying heart itself, I put a ring shaped magnet (we leave them stuck on the side of the EKG cart) so the pacemaker shuts off, so we can see, then after the procedure I remove the magnet. i make the same calculation of risk when I place the order for the EKG as to whether you can safely deactivate the pacer for a little while to do the EKG (some patients yes, some no)
This is the kind of information people on the forum needed to be educated about. Thank you, Doctor.
 
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robertcoogan

macrumors 6502a
Apr 5, 2008
730
1,060
Joshua Tree, California
I get the risk...but one would think that someone would try to make pacemakers that don't rely on this mechanism to work. Lots of magnets out there, not just iPhones. If an iPhone can interfere with this switch, why not come up with something that work differently (and is safer)?
 
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MauiPa

macrumors 68020
Apr 18, 2018
2,260
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My mum had a pacemaker fitted in 2019. Around that time she owned an original iPhone SE (2016), and even then she was told to keep it well away from her chest. This advice isn't new to the iPhone 12 at all, or at least in my mums case it wasn't.

She took the advice to heart (no pun intended) and since always kept her phone in a bag rather than a pocket, and even used the phone on loud speaker during phone calls (which you could argue is overkill but she likes to play it safe & who could blame her).

She now has an iPhone 12 mini & hasn't changed her handling of the device when compared to the SE. Point is, if you have a pacemaker fitted you're usually advised to keep any mobile device a safe distance from it and this was the case well before the iPhone 12.

That said, as someone whose mother has a pacemaker fitted I'm always grateful to see this issue highlighted - I just think it's worth pointing out as a lot of people may mistakenly think this is unique to iPhone 12 models & it isn't, it's just that the magnets are another thing to bear in mind in a long list of reasons why you should keep a phone a safe distance from such devices.
Very true, and thank you for speaking truth to malarkey. I also have a pacemaker (20 years on) and have also been warned and follow instructions. Warning extends far beyond phones - virtually anything with magnets or emf (radio waves and such). And never get an mri,
 
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MauiPa

macrumors 68020
Apr 18, 2018
2,260
3,189
I get the risk...but one would think that someone would try to make pacemakers that don't rely on this mechanism to work. Lots of magnets out there, not just iPhones. If an iPhone can interfere with this switch, why not come up with something that work differently (and is safer)?
Point taken. I have a device and have had one for 20 years. The magnets are used to program, test and read the devices. I suppose you could go Bluetooth (or a medical equivalent) or some other wireless, but imagine getting hacked? Oopsie
 
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