Feeds

Change that pacemaker. Now!

Mobiles disrupt old models

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk

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

Security for virtualized datacentres

More from The Register

next story
HBO shocks US pay TV world: We're down with OTT. Netflix says, 'Gee'
This affects every broadcaster, every cable guy
Same old iPad? NO. The new 'soft SIMs' are BIG NEWS
AppleSIM 'ware to allow quick switch of carriers
Arab States make play for greater government control of the internet
Nerds told to get lost in last-minute power grab bid at UN meeting
Brits: Google, can you scrape 60k pages from web, pleeease
Hey, c'mon Choc Factory, it's our 'right to be forgotten'
Of COURSE Stephen Elop's to blame for Nokia woes, says author
'Google did have some unique propositions for Nokia'
It's even GRIMMER up North after MEGA SKY BROADBAND OUTAGE
By 'eck! Eccles cake production thrown into jeopardy
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Win a year’s supply of chocolate
There is no techie angle to this competition so we're not going to pretend there is, but everyone loves chocolate so who cares.
Why cloud backup?
Combining the latest advancements in disk-based backup with secure, integrated, cloud technologies offer organizations fast and assured recovery of their critical enterprise data.
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?
Saudi Petroleum chooses Tegile storage solution
A storage solution that addresses company growth and performance for business-critical applications of caseware archive and search along with other key operational systems.