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Earbuds interfering with pacemakers, defibrillators, says study

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Dan Farber on Yahoo, Sun, and Web 2.0 Summit

A group of researchers presented a study to the American Heart Association over the weekend in New Orleans and revealed that the tiny earbuds packed with MP3 players like the iPod may cause problems for folks with pacemakers and defibrillators. A quarter of the patients (14/60) in the study were affected when earbuds were placed within 1.2-inches of each device. Interference was twice as high in defibrillators as it was in pacemakers.

So what’s causing the issue?

First, eight models were tested that included clip-on and earbud types and it’s the magnets that mess with the electrical impulses sent by a pacemaker causing them to send beats no matter what. In defibrillators, the magnets could shutdown the devices ability to send the electrical shock necessary to keep the heart beating normally.

On the flipside, MP3 players themselves and cell phones with Bluetooth don’t interfere with the aforementioned devices. So the message here, folks, is that you keep your earbuds away from your chest because it doesn’t seem to interfere with your pumper when you’re using it the way it should be used.

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