Heart patient risk from iPad 2 magnets found by 14-year-old

“Gianna Chien is somewhat different from all the other researchers reporting on their work today to more than 8,000 doctors at the Heart Rhythm Society meeting,” Michelle Fay Cortez reports for Bloomberg. “Chien is 14, and her study — which found that Apple Inc.’s iPad 2 can, in some cases, interfere with life-saving heart devices because of the magnets inside — is based on a science-fair project that didn’t even win her first place.”

“The research offers a valuable warning for people with implanted defibrillators, which deliver an electric shock to restart a stopped heart, said John Day, head of heart-rhythm services at Intermountain Medical Center in Murray, Utah, and chairman of the panel that reviews scientific papers to be presented at the Denver meeting,” Cortez reports. “If a person falls asleep with the iPad 2 on the chest, the magnets in the cover can ‘accidentally turn off’ the heart device, said Chien, a high school freshman in Stockton, California, whose father is a doctor. ‘I definitely think people should be aware. That’s why I’m presenting the study.'”

Cortez, “Trudy Muller, an Apple spokeswoman, declined to comment on the study in an e-mail, referring questions about the iPad2’s safety to its online product guide. The guide cautions users about radio frequency interference, suggests that patients with pacemakers keep the iPad at least six inches away and says they should be turned off in health-care facilities when instructed by staff or posted signs.”

Read more in the full article here.


    1. this is a stupid article

      oh wait, apple pls stop making mag-safe power cables on
      the macbook pro cos there is a danger
      com’ on da stinkin mickeysoft surface has magnets too

      and all heart patients already know magnets are a risk
      so who cares if the kid didnt win the science fair

      apple could make iPad sans da magnets but of course

  1. Help, I swallowed my iPad whole. I hear it can be a choking hazard if not properly chewed. What shall I do???

    Should I be worried? Can I sue 10 years from now…… for…. er….. glass poisoning?


    1. It’s not at “ethics committee.” It’s an Institutional Review Board. And of course, I don’t know what happened in this case, but your assumption that this study might pose some significant risk to human subjects suggests you don’t know much about pacemakers.

      1. I think that a treatment that can cause a pacemaker to fail is equivalent to a treatment that can cause grave harm or death. It seems that the same results could have been obtained with using human subjects and not exposing anyone to injury.

    2. … story at the other end of the link? It says HER FATHER HELPED HER. True, it might have been “safer”, but there was no significant danger in the first place. Her father could easily test various pacemakers to insure no interference before allowing the daughter to test them. The bulk of the testing was on DEFIBRILLATORS, and her father could easily have stepped in to remedy any life-threatening problems raised by the test. Defibrillators are only active when the patient’s heart has stopped.

      1. Did you read what I wrote? You failed to answer the most important question, “Could these same data and results been obtained without ANY risk to a human being?”. If the answer is “Yes.” then the use of a human subject was absolutely unnecessary.

      2. You are correct. I should have said defibrillators. Now this next statement of mine is just speculation, since I didn’t read the informed consent documents subjects should have signed. But I can imagine a risk statement suggesting that, if there was any risk, it would only be that the subject might develop an arrhythmia during the few seconds the device was turned off, in which case they would just turn it back on, which they were going to do anyway. As long as subjects knew of whatever risk there was, the IRB judged the potential risks to the subjects was outweighed by the potential benefits, and the subjects were properly informed, and they gave consent, then there would not be a problem with the study design.

        Although I don’t know the details, it’s kind of difficult for me to imagine that a cardiologist would work with his daughter in a study with his name somehow attached, where the design was his daughter saying to subjects, “Hey, can I hold my iPad up to your defibrillator to see what happens?”

  2. If it’s in the product safety guide, how does this kid get credit for discovering it. She could have saved a lot of time by just reading what Apple supplies!

  3. Apple has been found to use di-hydrogen monoxide in the making of some of its products. This chemical has been linked to the deaths of thousands of people around the world if they get it into their lungs in sufficient quantities.

  4. iPad has magnets for the smart cover to function a O/I state.

    “iPad 2 can, IN SOME CASES, interfere with life-saving heart devices because of the magnets inside” — article here

    — What are these cases… holding the iPAD to the chest while transporting it?

    “MOST defibrillators will turn back on once the magnet is no longer affecting the device.” — bloomberg link

    — Again vague – “most”, so what heart devices are not re-activating?

    “I don’t think anyone really knows about the risks,” Chien said.

    THATS RIGHT, no one really knows how risky it is, but thank you for informing the world the magnets are strong and COULD POSSIBLY put patients with heart defibrillators at a RISK. Lets figure out how high this risk is and educated more those how have the situation. That would be more responsible than attempting to down Apples device. As other devices also have magnets.

    Apple could sell the MAGNETS in the COVER and the metal contacts in the device… how that triggers the power on and off I am not sure.

  5. “Interestingly enough, the project was not deemed worthy of even second place in a science fair. How come it gets national press?”
    Because it give lazy pseudo-journalists a chance to take yet another swipe at Apple, thereby getting them attention they would otherwise never achieve.

  6. How sensitive these pacemakers are to everything is the only thig I have heard in my whole life. They are sensetive to this, they can be exposed to that, this is a risk, that is a risk… Maybe they should try to improve the pacemakers so they can exist in the real world? Who is setting up the specs for these anyways? They can’t take anything. That is not adequate if they are to function in the real world.

  7. Also. When Bloomberg was seeking a comment from Apple a spokes woman pointed they to a document on Apple’s help and support page where it says that the iPad should be kept one feet away from a pacemaker.

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