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Heart beat: Sweeter note sounded for iPod users

Updated: July 01, 2008

Heart beat

Sweeter note sounded for iPod users

In the summer of 2007, reporting on a study out of Michigan State University, we cautioned musically minded readers with a pacemaker or implanted cardioverter-defibrillator (ICD) to keep their iPods or other digital music players a foot or two away from the heart because they might interfere with the heart device. Newer work suggests that probably isn't necessary.

The Michigan State study surprised Dr. Gregory Webster and his colleagues at Harvard-affiliated Children's Hospital in Boston, who hadn't run across a case of an iPod interfering with a pacemaker or an ICD in any of their patients. So they tested iPods and three other digital music players on 51 of their patients with a pacemaker or ICD. Even when the music player was placed directly on the chest, it had no effect on the pacemaker or ICD, as shown by tracings on an electrocardiogram. But the music players did interfere with communication between the heart device and the tool used to program or collect information from it.

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