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Read the FDA’s latest update on the risk MagSafe poses to pacemakers

Published May 15th, 2021 10:33AM EDT
iPhone 12 MagSafe
Image: Apple Inc.

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It took a bit longer than expected due to the pandemic, but Apple finally announced the iPhone 12 last October during a prerecorded event at its Cupertino campus. Alongside the new phone models, Apple also pulled back the curtain on a series of MagSafe accessories that would be compatible with the iPhone 12. A few months later, doctors expressed their concerns about MagSafe technology’s effect on pacemakers in the medical journal Heart Rhythm. Shortly after, Apple responded on its support site, and now, this week, the FDA has finally weighed in.

Citing articles warning that the high field strength magnets in new phones, watches, and other smart devices, the US Food and Drug Administration revealed in a news brief on Thursday that it decided to conduct its own testing to see if these magnets did indeed pose any risk to patients with implanted medical devices. Those tests showed that “the risk to patients is low,” and adverse events associated with this technology have yet to be reported.

“As a result of these actions, today we’re taking steps to provide information for patients and health care providers to ensure they are aware of potential risks and can take simple proactive and preventative measures,” said Jeff Shuren, M.D., J.D., director of the FDA’s Center for Devices and Radiological Health.

“We believe the risk to patients is low and the agency is not aware of any adverse events associated with this issue at this time. However, the number of consumer electronics with strong magnets is expected to increase over time. Therefore, we recommend people with implanted medical devices talk with their health care provider to ensure they understand this potential risk and the proper techniques for safe use.”

According to the FDA, individuals with implanted medical devices should take the following precautions:

  • Keeping consumer electronics, such as certain cell phones and smart watches, six inches away from implanted medical devices.
  • Refraining from carrying consumer electronics in a pocket over the medical device.
  • Talking to your health care provider if you have questions regarding magnets in consumer electronics and implanted medical devices.

If you want to know more, be sure to check out the FDA’s newly minted page about magnets in cell phones and smart watches and how they might interact with pacemakers and other implanted devices.

Jacob Siegal
Jacob Siegal Associate Editor

Jacob Siegal is Associate Editor at BGR, having joined the news team in 2013. He has over a decade of professional writing and editing experience, and helps to lead our technology and entertainment product launch and movie release coverage.