We highlighted the issue as far back as January when Apple updated supporting documentation for the newly launched iPhone 12 about potential health risks. The magnets also affected other medical devices like defibrillators and hearing aids. At the time, Apple advised users to keep any MagSafe magnets at least six inches away from their medical device. The American Heart Association (AHA) launched an investigation into the matter, and it agrees with Apple.

Here are the details

MagSafe is Apple’s magnetic charging technology, originally created as a safety feature for charging MacBooks. The company brought it back with the iPhone 12. While this makes wireless charging quick and easy, there’s more to be aware of if you have a pacemaker or other similar medical device. In the study with the breathtakingly long name of “Magnetic Interference on Cardiac Implantable Electronic Devices From Apple iPhone MagSafe Technology,” the AHA reached a similar conclusion to Apple. The study reports that using devices with MagSafe magnets presents “clinically significant” interference, which “has the potential to inhibit lifesaving therapy.” The AHA was also quick to point out that not all patients will exhibit the same behavior as in the study. “Based on the variability of interactions with respect to different smartphone models, patients are advised to consult with a heart rhythm specialist regarding recommendations specific to their smartphone and CIED,” the AHA said.

How the study was conducted

Under strict observation, AHA conducted several studies with the iPhone 12 Pro Max. By placing the mobile phone directly on the skin of a patient’s implant, magnet reversion modes were triggered. Since implantable medical devices work on magnetic fields, the devices were monitored when coming in the proximity of an iPhone 12 Pro Max. Apple has acknowledged that this iPhone uses more magnets than previous ones but isn’t of more concern. This is something that the AHA disagrees with. “Our study suggests otherwise as magnet response was demonstrated in 3/3 cases in vivo. In comparison to the older generation iPhone 6, a study found no cases of magnet response,” the study explains.

What you can do about it

We can’t offer medical advice, but Apple and the AHA warnings should be listened to. As much as possible, don’t bring mobile devices that can charge magnetically close to any medical implant. The study concludes: “Although the FDA website states that cellphones do not pose a significant health risk for patients with these devices, they do acknowledge that certain precautions may be advisable.”

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