Feeds

Change that pacemaker. Now!

Mobiles disrupt old models

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

SANS - Survey on application security programs

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

3 Big data security analytics techniques

More from The Register

next story
Virgin Media so, so SORRY for turning spam fire-hose on its punters
Hundreds of emails flood inboxes thanks to gaffe
A black box for your SUITCASE: Now your lost luggage can phone home – quite literally
Breakfast in London, lunch in NYC, and your clothes in Peru
AT&T threatens to pull out of FCC wireless auctions over purchase limits
Company wants ability to buy more spectrum space in auction
Turnbull leaves Australia's broadband blackspots in the dark
New Statement of Expectations to NBN Co offers get-out clauses for blackspot builds
Facebook claims 100 MEEELLION active users in India
Who needs China when you've got the next billion in your sights?
Facebook splats in-app chat, whacks brats into crack yakety-yak app
Jibber-jabbering addicts turfed out just as Zuck warned
Google looks to LTE and Wi-Fi to help it lube YouTube tubes
Bandwidth hogger needs tube embiggenment if it's to succeed
prev story

Whitepapers

Top three mobile application threats
Learn about three of the top mobile application security threats facing businesses today and recommendations on how to mitigate the risk.
Combat fraud and increase customer satisfaction
Based on their experience using HP ArcSight Enterprise Security Manager for IT security operations, Finansbank moved to HP ArcSight ESM for fraud management.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Five 3D headsets to be won!
We were so impressed by the Durovis Dive headset we’ve asked the company to give some away to Reg readers.
SANS - Survey on application security programs
In this whitepaper learn about the state of application security programs and practices of 488 surveyed respondents, and discover how mature and effective these programs are.