Wearable fitness and wellness trackers could interfere with some implanted cardiac devices such as pacemakers, according to a study.
Devices such as smartwatches, smart rings and smart scales used to monitor fitness-related activities could interfere with the functioning of cardiac implantable electronic devices (CIEDs) such as pacemakers, implantable cardioverter defibrillators (ICDs), and cardiac resynchronisation therapy (CRT) devices, the study published in the Heart Rhythm journal found.
Researchers found that the electrical current used in wearable smart gadgets during “bioimpedance sensing” interfered with proper functioning of some implanted cardiac devices from three leading manufacturers.
Lead researcher, Dr Benjamin Sanchez Terrones, of the University of Utah. said the results did not convey any immediate or clear risks to patients who wear the trackers. However, the different levels of electrical current emitted by the wearable devices could result in pacing interruptions or unnecessary shocks to the heart. Further research was needed to determine the actual level of risk".
“Our research is the first to study devices that employ bioimpedance-sensing technology as well as discover potential interference problems with CIEDs such as CRT devices. We need to test across a broader cohort of devices and in patients with these devices. Collaborative investigation between researchers and industry would be helpful for keeping patients safe,” Sanchez said.
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Source: The Guardian, 22 February 2023