EMF Health-effects Research

Is there a risk for interaction between mobile phones and single lead VDD pacemakers?

Nowak B, Rosocha S, Zellerhoff C, Liebrich A, Himmrich E, Voigtlander T, Meyer J

Pacing Clin Electrophysiol 19(10):1447-1450, 1996

Mobile phones may cause pacemaker interference. Patients with a single lead VDD pacemaker might be at special risk, since the atrial sensitivity is often programmed to low (high sensitivity) threshold values and the majority of patients are pacemaker dependent due to the underlying high degree AV block. We evaluated 31 patients with three types of single lead VDD pacemakers: 12 Unity, 292-07 (Intermedics, Inc.); 10 Thera VDD, 8948 or 8968i (Medtronic, Inc.); and 9 Saphir 600 (Vitatron, Inc.) for interference from a cellular mobile phone with a power of 2 W (D-net).

For this purpose, atrial and ventricular sensitivity settings were programmed to their most sensitive values (A: 0.1-0.25 mV; V: 1.0 mV) and ventricular sensing was programmed to unipolar. With the ECG continuously monitored, the phone's extendable antenna was brought in direct contact with the patient's skin at the right sternal border, with the tip of the antenna in skin contact just below the clavicle, within 5 cm of the pacemaker connector. Then multiple phases of phone calls were performed, and the effects on the pacemakers recorded. In our group of patients with three different types of single lead VDD pacemakers, no interference could be detected using a 2-W mobile phone in the digital D-net.

The programmed values remained unchanged after the interference test. Therefore, the risk of interference seems to be low for the VDD pacemakers tested, although our study design does not allow to entirely exclude the possibility of interference from a mobile phone.

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