Heart beat: PDAs okay for pacemakers, but zip for the Zapper

Heart beat

PDAs okay for pacemakers, but zip the Zapper

During the early days of cellphone use, a flurry of reports raised the possibility that these now-ubiquitous devices could interfere with pacemakers or implanted cardioverter/defibrillators (ICDs). That didn't pan out. As long as you don't keep your cellphone in a breast pocket right next to your pacemaker or defibrillator, it is safe to use.

What about wireless personal digital assistants (PDAs) such as a Palm Pilot, BlackBerry, or similar device that can be used for e-mail or accessing the Internet? Mayo Clinic researchers checked the effects of a popular PDA connected to a wireless local area network on 13 pacemakers and ICDs. They saw no interference, even when the pacemaker or ICD was in the most sensitive setting and the PDA was at maximum power and right next to the heart device.

Swiss doctors urge caution with a more oddball source of electromagnetic radiation called the Zapper. This alternative medicine treatment is a battery-powered generator that delivers pulses of electricity to the hands. The people who make money selling the device say it cures cancer, gets rid of parasites, eradicates germs, and cures a host of chronic illnesses. It doesn't. But it does interfere with implanted devices.

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