Headphones can interfere with heart devices

Headphones can interfere with heart devices

Headphones from iPods
or other digital music players
may damage hearing, but music lovers who have
a pacemaker or an implanted defibrillator
are better off keeping them in their ears.

A small, new study revealed that placing
the ubiquitous ear buds or other headphones too
close to the chest could interfere with the proper
functioning of the devices used to keep
hearts beating at their proper rhythm.

Patients should not place the headphones,
which contain magnets, in shirt pockets or
drape them over their chest, lest they risk havoc
with their heart-rhythm devices,
researchers said on Sunday.

Pacemakers treat slow heart rhythms,
while implantable cardioverter defibrillators (ICDs)
jolt dangerously racing hearts back
into a normal rhythm.

"For patients with pacemakers,
exposure to the headphones can force the device
to deliver signals to the heart causing it to beat
without regard to the patients' underlying
heart rhythm," said Dr William Maisel
of Beth Israel Medical Center in Boston
and the study's lead investigator.

Exposure of ICDs to magnets in headphones
may deactivate them, causing the device
to stop looking for abnormal heart rhythms,
Maisel explained.

Results of the 60-patient study were presented
at the American Heart Association scientific
meeting in New Orleans.

Researchers tested eight different models of
MP3 player headphone with iPods.
They found a detectable interference with the
heart devices in 14 patients -- 30 percent
of ICD patients and 15 percent
of the pacemaker patients.

In most cases, removal of the headphones
restored normal device function and there were
no problems when the headphones were at least
1.2 inches (3 cm) from the skin's surface,
Maisel said.

Earlier this year U.S. health regulators reported
that interactions between MP3 players and
implanted heart devices are unlikely to occur.
That may be the case -- as long as you keep
those ear buds where they belong.

(Editing by Maureen Bavdek)

PS: This writing was reviewed by me following the guidelines of the American Heart Association and the Brazilian Society of Cardiology © 2009 by Dr.MTKvis

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