Monday, November 10, 2008

Keep Your Headphones Away from Pacemakers!

You might have already guessed this wasn't a good idea, but a new study has now confirmed that placing a pair of headphones nearby a pacemaker or defibrillator can interfere with the device. While this doesn't mean that people with either heart regulator need to stay away from the gadgets, it does mean that you should be mindful where you put them when they're not on or over your ears.

In other words: don't act like a DJ and sit a pair of over-the-ear 'phones across your neck and down by your chest when you're not listening to tunes. Don't throw a pair of earbuds in your shirt pocket either, or wear any of those fashionable earbuds that double as a necklace draped across your front.

Contrary to what some might believe, Bluetooth functionality in cell phones actually doesn't interfere with pacemakers or defibrillators. With headphones, it's those pesky magnets inside that can wreak havoc with the heart devices and cause potential issues. According to the study, though, you'd have to be holding them within 1.2" of your chest to even risk any effect.

Still, better safe than sorry. So always keep those 'phones in your ears, and keep them far from your body when you're done with them.

The study took place at the Medical Device Safety Institute at Beth Israel Medical Center in Boston, MA, and included eight different headphones used with 60 patients who either had a pacemaker or defibrillator. Interference was detected with 15% of those who had a pacemaker and 30% of participants with a defibrillator.

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