Have a Pacemaker and an “iPod?” Read on

Disclaimer: Results are not guaranteed*** and may vary from person to person***.

A group of Harvard University researchers have found that MP3 players may disrupt a pacemaker worn nearby. More specifically, it is the headphones that come with the music players that can impact these important heart devices.

At a recent American Heart Association meeting, the investigators said that magnets in the headphones could adversely affect the functioning of pacemakers and implantable cardioverter defibrillators — if they are placed within an inch of them. Those who wear these do so because their hearts need extra help. Anything to threaten that extra help is dangerous.

But let’s not get tripped up by fear-mongering too much here. The Harvard team suggested that the MP3 player will not likely put a person’s life at risk if it swings nearby a pacemaker. Still, those who wear these heart devices are advised to keep headphones a couple of inches away from the devices.

This idea is acknowledged throughout the scientific world. The answer is not to put the player in your breast pocket and not to let headphones hang around your neck or shoulder. When not listening to music, put the headphones in your pants pocket or handbag.

Other sources of interference are more commonly known. They include microwaves and magnetic devices such as anti-theft systems in stores. It’s fine to be in contact for short periods of time, but spending a lot of time near a microwave can interfere with a pacemaker. So, too, can constantly putting headphones near one’s heart.

It is the headphones that are news here. Previous research has shown that “iPods” and the like themselves don’t interact with heart devices. But little attention has been paid to the headphones, which they are all obviously equipped with.

The researchers tested eight types of MP3 headphones on 60 patients with pacemakers or defibrillators. They were placed on the patients’ chests overtop the devices. Figures show that 30% of those with defibrillators had an interaction compared to 15% of those with pacemakers. But moved 1.2 inches away from the heart device, there was no interaction — even with a much stronger magnet.

Just some food for thought for music-lovers.