How dangerous are electric cars for pacemaker patients?

October 14, 2018 //By Christoph Hammerschmidt
How dangerous are electric cars for pacemaker patients?
Popular electric cars currently in use do not lead to electromagnetic interactions and therefore do not interfere with implanted pacemakers or defibrillators, a research team from the German Heart Center Munich concludes. Nevertheless, the cardiologists see potential for improvement.

All-clear for drivers of electric cars with an implanted cardiac pacemaker or defibrillator: this was the conclusion reached by a research team from the German Heart Centre in Munich after examining 108 pacemaker and ICD patients. The team recently presented its study results at the German Heart Days in Berlin.

The study participants were exposed to the electromagnetic field of four common electric cars (Nissan Leaf, Tesla Model S, BMW i3, VW eUp). Pacemaker or ICD malfunctions during driving or charging of the electric cars were investigated by ECG monitoring and device queries. According to Dr. Amir Brkic, first author of the study, no device malfunctions or reprogramming were observed. "The electromagnetic field inside the vehicle was small at 2.0 to 3.6 micro Tesla, which means that the passenger cells are well shielded," summarizes the expert.

The patients were included in the study as part of a routine device check. The investigation of potential sources of interference was carried out on a chassis dynamometer for cars under standardised conditions in cooperation with vehicle technology scientists. The patients drove the vehicles under load changes and accelerated over 100km/h during the test.

The largest electromagnetic fields (EMF) were identified during the charging process - here they amounted to 116 micro Tesla. Brkic: "The charging process represents the potentially more dangerous EMF exposure and should be further investigated in terms of rapid charging technology".

Electric cars are increasingly being used as public or private transport and represent a potential source of interference (EMI) for pacemaker or defibrillator wearers. The possible impairment of patients with implanted pacemakers or defibrillators ranges from unnecessary restriction of use to life-threatening malfunction of the implanted device.

Source: A. Brkic et al.: Interferences of implanted pacemakers and defibrillators by electric cars not detectable: a cross-sectional, in vivo study; Clin Res Cardiol 107, Suppl 3, October 2018

 

Further information is available at www.dgk.org


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