Magnets may pose serious risks for patients with pacemakers and ICDs

November 30, 2006

Magnets may interfere with the operation of pacemakers and implantable cardioverter defibrillators, according to a study published in the December 2006 edition of Heart Rhythm.

Researchers found that while common magnets for home and office use with low magnetic strength posed little risk, stronger magnets made from neodymium-iron-boron (NdFeB) may cause interference with cardiac devices and pose potential hazards to patients. NdFeB magnets are increasingly being used in homes and office products, toys, jewelry and even clothing.

"Physicians should caution patients about the risks associated with these magnets," says Thomas Wolber, a cardiologist at the University Hospital of Zurich in Switzerland and lead author of the study. "We also recommend that the packaging include information on the potential risks that may be associated with these types of magnets."

Two spherical magnets of eight and 10 millimeters in diameter and one necklace made of 45 spherical magnets were tested on 70 patients, 41 with pacemakers and 29 with ICDs. Magnetic interference was observed in all patients. The cardiac devices resumed normal function after the magnets were removed.

In an accompanying editorial, Huagui Li, M.D., a cardiologist at the Minnesota Heart Clinic in Edina, MN., writes, "This study is timely and important to attract the attention of both the public and the medical profession about the potentially serious health consequences of magnets used in decoration products... for an ICD patient, the magnet interference can be fatal."

Dr. Li concludes that manufacturers who use magnets should be required to put warning labels on their products for optimal patient safety.

Source: GYMR

Explore further: NIST PET phantoms bring new accuracy to medical scans

Related Stories

NIST PET phantoms bring new accuracy to medical scans

July 29, 2015

Teaming with a medical equipment company, researchers at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) have demonstrated the first calibration system for positron emission tomography (PET) scanners directly tied ...

Is your fear of radiation irrational?

July 14, 2015

Bad Gastein in the Austrian Alps. It's 10am on a Wednesday in early March, cold and snowy – but not in the entrance to the main gallery of what was once a gold mine. Togged out in swimming trunks, flip-flops and a bath ...

APPLE EVENT LIVE: The watch, a gold MacBook, HBO on iPhone

March 9, 2015

Make calls, read email, control music, manage Instagram photos, keep up with your workout, pay for groceries, open your hotel room door. CEO Tim Cook says you can do it all from your wrist with Apple Watch—for 18 hours ...

Recommended for you

How the finch changes its tune

August 3, 2015

Like top musicians, songbirds train from a young age to weed out errors and trim variability from their songs, ultimately becoming consistent and reliable performers. But as with human musicians, even the best are not machines. ...

Machine Translates Thoughts into Speech in Real Time

December 21, 2009

( -- By implanting an electrode into the brain of a person with locked-in syndrome, scientists have demonstrated how to wirelessly transmit neural signals to a speech synthesizer. The "thought-to-speech" process ...


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.