Apple has put out a long list of devices it says should be kept a "safe distance" away from pacemakers and other potentially life-saving implanted cardiac devices.
The full list, published on June 25, 2021, is lengthy and covers a range of popular Apple products, including iPhone 12 models, AirPods, Apple Watch, MacBooks, HomePod smart speakers, certain Beats headphones, and numerous charging accessories.
The main concern comes from magnets and radios used within the devices that emit electromagnetic fields. These components run the possibility of interfering with medical devices, namely pacemakers, that respond to magnets and radios when in close contact.
Apple is advising consumers to keep these certain products a safe distance away from medical devices, which are more than 15 cm (6 inches) apart or more than 30 cm (12 inches) apart if charging wirelessly. They also recommend people consult with their doctor and the manufacturer of your device for specific guidelines.
As BBC News pointed out, some Apple products have promoted heart health as a feature of their products. Some Apple Watches can be used to perform an electrocardiogram, which tests the timing and strength of the heart’s electrical signals.
The updated list comes just after a study published earlier this month in the Journal of the American Heart Association that found the magnets used in the wireless charging technology for the iPhone 12 may interfere with implanted cardiac devices. Scientists held the smartphone device over the skin near the implantable cardiac devices or directly over the still-packaged cardiac device and found it disturbed the device nearly 80 percent (11 times out of 14) of the time.
“We have always known that magnets can interfere with cardiac implantable electronic devices, however, we were surprised by the strength of the magnets used in the iPhone 12 magnet technology,” Dr Michael Wu, lead study investigator, and cardiologist, said in a statement.
“In general, a magnet can change a pacemaker’s timing or deactivate a defibrillator’s lifesaving functions, and this research indicate the urgency for everyone to be aware that electronic devices with magnets can interfere with cardiac implantable electronic devices.”
However, it’s not just iPhones and Apple products that can potentially cause issues for pacemakers, the study authors warned.
“The American Heart Association and manufacturers of pacemakers and implantable cardioverter defibrillators have long recommended that cell phones be used in the ear opposite the side of the body of an implanted device, and that the cell phones be kept at least 10 centimeters [4 inches] away from the device, therefore not in a shirt or coat pocket on the same side as the cardiac device,” explained N.A. Mark A. Estes, professor of medicine and director of the Clinical Cardiac Electrophysiology Fellowship Program at the Heart and Vascular Institute of the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine.