Press Release

May 14, 2021
1 min read

FDA warns certain cell phones, smartwatches may interfere with implanted medical devices


Press Release

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The FDA issued a warning that certain cell phones and smartwatches containing high field strength magnets may cause some implanted medical devices, particularly cardiac devices, to suspend normal operations when in proximity to the magnet.

According to an FDA press release, many implanted medical devices such as pacemakers and implantable cardioverter defibrillators are designed with a “magnet mode” to allow for safe operation during certain medical procedures such as MRI. Placing certain cell phones and smartwatches too close to the implanted device can cause the device to switch into magnet mode when it is not supposed to, suspending normal operations, the agency stated in the release.

smartphone on table
Source: Adobe Stock

The FDA offered the following precautions for patients with implanted medical devices:

  • keep the consumer electronics such cell phones and smartwatches 6 inches away from implanted medical devices;
  • do not carry electronics in a pocket over the medical device;
  • check implanted medical devices using a home monitoring system, if one is present; and
  • consult a health care provider if there are symptoms or questions regarding this issue.

“The FDA believes the risk to patients is low, and the agency is not aware of any adverse events associated with this issue at this time,” the agency wrote in the release.