In January came disturbing news for iPhone 12 users with pacemakers, when three Michigan doctors found that the iPhone 12 lineup’s MagSafe system could “potentially inhibit lifesaving therapy in a patient” due to it causing magnetic interference with implantable medical devices, like pacemakers.
However, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration did its own testing, and 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 advises patients with implanted medical devices to consider taking precautions, including:
- 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 jibe with guidelines Apple shared in a March 2021 support document:
Medical devices such as implanted pacemakers and defibrillators might contain sensors that respond to magnets and radios when in close contact. To avoid any potential interactions with these devices, keep your iPhone and MagSafe accessories a safe distance away from your device (more than 6 inches / 15 cm apart or more than 12 inches / 30 cm apart if wirelessly charging). But consult with your physician and your device manufacturer for specific guidelines.