Check that iPod when you're around the elderly

A 17-year-old high school student in Michigan has uncovered that iPods can cause pacemakers to malfunction. In a study that tested 83 elderly patients, an iPod was placed just two inches from the patient's chest for five to 10 seconds. Telemetry interference occurred in 29 percent of the patients, and a pacemaker misreading the heart's function occurred in 20 percent of patients, according to HealthDay News. In some cases, electrical interference was detected from as far as 18 inches away, and in one patient, the pacemaker stopped working.

Jay Thaker, son of an electrophysiologist and a rheumatologist, was put in touch with Dr. Krit Jongnarangsin, assistant professor in the Division of Cardiovascular Medicine at the University of Michigan, to help investigate the effects of iPods on pacemakers.

"We took patients from a pacemaker clinic, got consent, and we put the pacemaker programmer on them to view what was going on inside the pacemaker on a screen," Thaker said to the Denver Channel. "And then we took the iPod and held it about two inches above the implant site of the pacemaker."

"If the pacemaker is inhibited by the iPod and the patient does not have their own rhythm, they can be in serious problem," added Jongnarangsin.

Dr. Jongnarangsin astutely points out, "Most pacemaker patients are not iPod users," but adds that the phenomenon needs to be studied more. Only iPods were used in the test, and it’s unclear if other portable music players may also pose such a risk to pacemakers.

Although iPods aren’t usually in the hands of those with pacemakers, such individuals could come in close contact with those who do carry around Apple’s music player. Apple announced in April that it has sold its 100 millionth iPod, making it a particularly popular device in the hands of the general public.

"And boy have we patented it!" -- Steve Jobs, Macworld 2007

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