EMF Health-effects Research

Reliability of electromagnetic filters of cardiac pacemakers tested by cellular telephone ringing.

Trigano A, Blandeau O, Dale C, Wong MF, Wiart J.

Heart Rhythm. 2(8):837-841, 2005

BACKGROUND: State-of-the art cardiac pacemakers are protected against radiofrequency signals. Although there have been earlier clinical and in vitro reports of cellular phone interference with implantable devices, only a few studies have been performed in recent years. The ringing phase of digital GSM or PCS cellular phones includes a brief period of peak radiated power.

OBJECTIVES: This study tested the protection offered by electromagnetic filters of cardiac pacemakers against cellular phone ringing.

METHODS: We performed 330 consecutive tests in 158 patients at the time of routine examination in our pacemaker follow-up clinic. The programmed parameters remained unchanged before testing. During electrocardiographic monitoring, 2 single-band digital cellular phones consecutively placed over the pacemaker pocket each received a call. The phone systems tested were

1) GSM at a maximal power output of 2 W, operating on a 900 MHz carrier frequency, and

2) PCS at a maximal output of 1 W, operating on a 1800 MHz carrier frequency.

RESULTS: Interference was noted in only 5 tests, due to interaction by the GSM system with 4 unprotected pacemaker models. The GSM test was negative in 12 other tests of identical pulse generator models. The overall incidence of interference was 1.5% of tests.

CONCLUSIONS: Interference by cellular phone ringing occurred only with unprotected pacemaker models. Standard programming of these unprotected models was associated with a low incidence of interference.

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