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IPad 2 May Interfere With Heart Implants, Study Shows

The magnets in iPad 2 tablets and their covers are capable of interfering with heart implants, including pacemakers, according to a new small study presented Thursday at Heart Rhythm 2013, the Heart Rhythm Society's 34th Annual Scientific Sessions.

The research was performed by 14-year-old high school freshman Gianna Chien of Stockton, California and her colleagues. They found that magnetic interference could change the settings and even deactivate the technology of implantable cardioverter defibrillators (ICDs).

Chien was helped by her father, a cardiologist. She asked 26 volunteers with ICDs to hold the iPad 2 at reading distance and then, on a separate occasion, to hold the tablets against their chests.

The study showed that magnets imbedded in the iPad 2, as well as its Smart Cover, could interfere and disrupt the workings of ICDs.

Specialized magnets are rooted in the heart devices to allow doctors to adjust their settings on a set schedule. The iPad 2 and its Smart Cover magnets can undermine an ICD's ability to stabilize sudden rapid heart rates, such as fibrillation and tachycardia.

This danger can happen when a person falls asleep with the tablet sitting on their chest. Of the study participants, 30% had interference with their devices when the iPad2 was placed in that position.

However, electromagnetic interference was not seen when the iPad was at a normal reading distance from the chest.

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