Saturday, May 12, 2007

New iPod Risk: Be Still, My Beating Heart

Using an iPod can be hazardous to your health, and it can be life threatening for some people. There have long been reports that playing music too loud can permanently harm hearing, but recent studies have should that iPods can cause cardiac implantable pacemakers to malfunction by interfering with the electromagnetic equipment monitoring the heart, according to a study reported by CNN and other news outlets.

As the study reports, "Electrical interference was detected half of the time when the iPod was held just 2 inches from the patient's chest for 5 to 10 seconds." Apple's iPod was the only portable music player tested in the study. The study looked at 100 patients, whose mean age was 77. In some cases, the article noted, iPods caused interference when they were held as far as 18 inches from the chest. The iPods were found to interfere with the pacemaker's telemetry equipment, which caused the device to misread the heart's pacing and in one case caused the pacemaker to stop functioning altogether.

Of course, as one of the authors of the study notes, most people who use pacemakersare not iPod users, so it's not known how often this problem actually occurs in the real world.

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