DOCTOR'S VIEW ARCHIVE

Cellular Phones Can Cause Pacemaker Problems

ROCHESTER, MINN-Wireless hand-held (cellular) telephones are becoming more and more popular as their technology improves.

Heart pacemakers operate, with a timer, to stimulate the heart muscle to contract by regularly sending a discharge from a battery pack through a wire with a lead placed into the heart.

There have been reports of potential interference between cellular telephones and heart pacemakers. These reports prompted a multicenter study of this issue.

Dr. David L. Hayes and associates published their study of 980 patients with heart pacemakers using five different types of cellular phones. This report (New England Journal of Medicine 1997;336:1473-9) suggests that cellular phones can interfere with the function of heart pacemakers.

Of important note, the pacemaker interference by the cellular phones was only found to be significant when the phones were held over the pacemakers-not when placed in the normal listening position over the ear.

Further, of the two basic types of telephones, the researchers found that analogue telephones were significantly safer (less pacemaker interference) than digital phones.

Health Solutions From Our Sponsors