Feeds

Change that pacemaker. Now!

Mobiles disrupt old models

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Website security in corporate America

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

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

More from The Register

next story
Brit telcos warn Scots that voting Yes could lead to HEFTY bills
BT and Co: Independence vote likely to mean 'increased costs'
Phones 4u slips into administration after EE cuts ties with Brit mobe retailer
More than 5,500 jobs could be axed if rescue mission fails
New 'Cosmos' browser surfs the net by TXT alone
No data plan? No WiFi? No worries ... except sluggish download speed
ISPs' post-net-neutrality world is built on 'bribes' says Tim Berners-Lee
Father of the worldwide web is extremely peeved over pay-per-packet-type plans
Radio hams can encrypt, in emergencies, says Ofcom
Consultation promises new spectrum and hints at relaxed licence conditions
Google+ GOING, GOING ... ? Newbie Gmailers no longer forced into mandatory ID slurp
Mountain View distances itself from lame 'network thingy'
Vodafone to buy 140 Phones 4u stores from stricken retailer
887 jobs 'preserved' in the process, says administrator PwC
Bonking with Apple has POUNDED mobe operators' wallets
... into submission. Weve squeals, ditches payment plans
Drag queens: Oh, don't be so bitchy, Facebook! Let us use our stage names
Handbags at dawn over free content ad network's ID policy
prev story

Whitepapers

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops
Balancing user privacy and privileged access, in accordance with compliance frameworks and legislation. Evaluating any potential remote control choice.
WIN a very cool portable ZX Spectrum
Win a one-off portable Spectrum built by legendary hardware hacker Ben Heck
Storage capacity and performance optimization at Mizuno USA
Mizuno USA turn to Tegile storage technology to solve both their SAN and backup issues.
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?
The next step in data security
With recent increased privacy concerns and computers becoming more powerful, the chance of hackers being able to crack smaller-sized RSA keys increases.