EMF Health-effects Research

Could C- and D-network mobile phones endanger patients with pacemakers?

Hofgartner F, Muller T, Sigel H

Dtsch Med Wochenschr 121(20):646-652, 1996

[Article in German]

OBJECTIVE: To investigate prospectively the extent of potentially harmful interference of cardiac pacemakers by mobile phones in the C (analog) and D (digital) networks in use in Germany.

PATIENTS AND METHODS: 104 patients (54 men, 50 women; mean age 75.8 [40-100] years) with 58 different implanted pacemaker models (43 one-chamber and 15 two-chamber systems) underwent uniform tests at various functional states with three different telephones (D1 portable 8 Watt, D1 Handy model 2 Watt, C Handy model 0.5 Watt). The distances between telephone aerial and pacemaker, as well as reception sensitivity and polarity of the pacemaker were varied. All tests were done during continuous ECG monitoring.

RESULTS: 28 different pacemaker types (48.3%) in 43 patients (41.3%) showed interference in the form of pacemaker inhibition and switching to interference frequencies as well as triggering of pacemaker-mediated tachycardias in the DDD mode, as well as in the temperature-regulated frequency-adaptive function. D portables influenced pacemaker function more often and at greater distance than the D Handy model, which was little different from the c network hand phone. Reduction in pacemaker sensitivity as well as switching to bipolar reception only partly eliminated the interference.

CONCLUSIONS: Patients with implanted pacemakers should if possible not use mobile phones in the C and D networks. Individual testing with suitable programming of pacemaker sensitivity and polarity can reduce the risk of interference.

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