Feeds

Change that pacemaker. Now!

Mobiles disrupt old models

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

Signals from GSM phones could interfere with heart pacemakers, according to a study published in the Institute of Physics journal, Physics in Medicine and Biology.

The study (abstract) found that some pacemakers confuse the signals from mobile phones for the heart's own electrical signals, causing the pacemaker to go on the blink.

The report's authors, based in the US and Italy, say that newer pacemakers fitted with a ceramic filter are immune from the problem. They're now calling on all pacemaker makers to use these filters .

"Most manufacturers have started to equip their new models with ceramic filters," said Giovanni Calcagnini, biomedical engineer at the Italian Institute of Health in Rome.

"We recommend all new models be equipped with these filters, since it is difficult to change cellphone technology to avoid them producing low-frequency radio frequency signals, " he said.

Without the ceramic filter radio frequency signals from GSM phones passed straight through standard filters used pacemakers, the study found. In turn, some electrical components of the pacemakers act like an aerial, which pick up and transmit these "undesirable signals" to the pacemaker's sensitive electronic circuits.

"This phenomenon could pose a critical problem for people wearing pacemakers because digital mobile phones use extremely low-frequency signals, which can be mistaken for normal heartbeat," said Calcagnini.

"If a pacemaker detects a normal heartbeat it will not function properly and could be very dangerous for the wearer. The pacemaker equipped with the ceramic filter, however, was immune to mobile phone radio frequency signals," he said.

Scientists have been aware of the threat to pacemakers from mobile phone since 1994. At the time researchers suggested wearers should keep a safe distance from mobile phones - just in case.

The paper is published here(pdf). It costs £18. ®

Health scare? What health scare!
Pacemaker users get digital radio warning
Mobile phone can save you from a heart attack
Is it a bra, or an anti-mugging device?
Phone-call dentist guilty of manslaughter
Mobile phones cause memory loss

Top 5 reasons to deploy VMware with Tegile

More from The Register

next story
Mighty Blighty broadbanders beg: Let us lay cable in BT's, er, ducts
Complain to Ofcom that telco has 'effective monopoly'
Download alert: Nearly ALL top 100 Android, iOS paid apps hacked
Attack of the Clones? Yeah, but much, much scarier – report
Broadband sellers in the UK are UP TO no good, says Which?
Speedy network claims only apply to 10% of customers
Yahoo! blames! MONSTER! email! OUTAGE! on! CUT! CABLE! bungle!
Weekend woe for BT as telco struggles to restore service
Fujitsu CTO: We'll be 3D-printing tech execs in 15 years
Fleshy techie disses network neutrality, helmet-less motorcyclists
Facebook, working on Facebook at Work, works on Facebook. At Work
You don't want your cat or drunk pics at the office
Soz, web devs: Google snatches its Wallet off the table
Killing off web service in 3 months... but app-happy bonkers are fine
prev story

Whitepapers

Why and how to choose the right cloud vendor
The benefits of cloud-based storage in your processes. Eliminate onsite, disk-based backup and archiving in favor of cloud-based data protection.
A strategic approach to identity relationship management
ForgeRock commissioned Forrester to evaluate companies’ IAM practices and requirements when it comes to customer-facing scenarios versus employee-facing ones.
Go beyond APM with real-time IT operations analytics
How IT operations teams can harness the wealth of wire data already flowing through their environment for real-time operational intelligence.
How to determine if cloud backup is right for your servers
Two key factors, technical feasibility and TCO economics, that backup and IT operations managers should consider when assessing cloud backup.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?