Apple’s iPhone 12 range continues to break sales records, but now a large new study has warned that phones pose a significant health risk. Here’s what you need to know.
This week, the Journal of the American Heart Association (JAHA) published its findings from a new study on the potential health risks posed by MagSafe, Apple’s magnetic charging system built into every iPhone 12 model. JAHA concluded that the iPhone 12 range “Has the potential to inhibit rescue therapy.”
The problem stems from Magsafe’s potential to cause electromagnetic interference to cardiac implantable electronic devices (CIEDs), which include pacemakers and defibrillators. JAHA says tests have found that CEID can be disturbed by a magnetic field of just 10 G [gauss] while the magnetic field strength of the iPhone 12 Pro Max can be greater than 50 G in direct contact. ”
“Our series of cases has several clinical consequences,” explains JAHA. “People often put their smartphones in their breast pockets above a device that can be in close proximity to the CIED. This may lead to an asynchronous pace or deactivation of antitachycardia therapies. “
JAHA’s findings are in line with a study conducted by the Heart Rhythm Journal in January, which warned that MagSafe magnets in the iPhone 12 range could “potentially inhibit life-saving therapy in a patient” and recommended “To avoid potential interactions with these devices, keep iPhone and MagSafe accessories at a safe distance from yours [CIED] device (more than 6 inches / 15 cm or more than 12 inches / 30 cm if charged wirelessly). “
Apple responded to these findings with a support document that acknowledges the potential for interference but downplays the risk, saying that “although all iPhone 12 models contain more magnets than previous iPhone models, they are not expected to pose a greater risk of magnetic interference to medical devices than previous iPhone models. “
But the JAHA study, while finding that some CEID brands are more susceptible than others, specifically challenges Apple’s claim:
“Apple Inc. has advice that the newer-generation iPhone 12 does not pose a greater risk of magnetic interference than the older-generation iPhone. However, our study suggests otherwise, as the magnet’s reaction is demonstrated in 3/3 of cases in vivo. Compared to the older-generation iPhone 6, a study by Lacour et al found no cases of a magnetic reaction in a sample of 148 patients. “
More than one million pacemakers are implanted worldwide each year, of which 200,000 are in the United States, and “that number is expected to increase” (source). Supporting these data, the APSF (Anesthesia Patient Safety Foundation) states that “cardiac arrhythmias have an estimated prevalence of 14.4 million patients in the United States and report approximately 40,700 deaths annually.”
“In conclusion, this report emphasizes the importance of public awareness,” JAHA said. “Patients are advised to consult a heart rate specialist for recommendations specific to their smartphone and CIED.”
It remains to be seen whether Apple will update the MagSafe alert on its website in light of this new data. And as leaks claim that MagSafe magnets will get stronger in the upcoming iPhone 13 range, it seems that questions about convenient charging technology will increase.
I have contacted Apple and will update this article when / if I receive a response.
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