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Monday, November 16, 2009

Headphone risk to pacemakers

PEOPLE with pacemakers know to keep magnets and electronic devices, such as cellphones, away from the implant to avoid interference. But now it seems even the tiny magnets in headphones pose a risk.

It's still safe to use them, says Kevin Fu at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, who carried out the study. Just don't keep them in breast pockets.

Fu and colleagues tested eight different headphones by holding them near the implants of 100 people. They found that in nearly a third of cases the magnets interfered with the device (Heart Rhythm, DOI: 10.1016/j.hrthm.2009.07.003).
Headphones containing neodymium were the most problematic, as the magnetic fields generated were very strong for the headphones' size, says Fu.

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