Every year more and more people carry miniature devices that help their hearts beat evenly and correctly.
These devices – pacemakers and portable defibrillators – are implanted subcutaneously. They “doze” peacefully under the skin, but keep a watchful eye on the heart rate. Recently, Swiss doctors warned that ordinary fridge magnets brought from distant wanderings and other magnetic jewelry pose a serious threat to this group of people. Let’s figure out why.
They became dangerous thanks to the progress of medicine. For example, pacemakers are implanted under the skin of patients with serious cardiac arrhythmias, and electrodes are inserted into the heart itself. As a result, it beats not at its own behest, as in a healthy person, and not at the whim of its own “pacemaker” who has gone mad, located in the heart, but under the dictation of a pacemaker. The device generates impulses and transmits them to the diseased heart via electrodes.
Another type of device is a portable defibrillator. As soon as the heart stops or its rhythm gives a serious and life-threatening failure, it turns on and starts the stopped heart, imposing the correct rhythm on it.
Unfortunately, all of these miniature devices are sensitive to powerful external electromagnetic influences. Ordinary magnets, which are probably in every home, are not dangerous for them. But modern magnets that have appeared in recent years can even be fatal for them. They are very powerful, and the field around them is so strong that it can, excuse the pun, derail the pacemaker, provoking dangerous cardiac arrhythmias. Portable defibrillators can also be buggy from magnets. And this is also very dangerous. Doctors do not even exclude fatal outcomes in such situations.
Dangerous experts consider magnets made on the basis of an alloy of iron, neodymium and boron. Today they are widely used not only in industry, but also for various knickknacks – like the same fridge magnets, magnetic badges, fasteners for clothes and bags. They are even used for jewelry – such magnets can be made outwardly not dull gray, like ordinary ferromagnets, but shiny a la silver or gold.
Swiss doctors from the University Hospital of Zurich tested the new magnets in 70 patients: 41 with pacemakers and 29 with defibrillators implanted under the skin. Small magnets weighing only 8 grams negatively affected all patients if they were at a distance of 3 cm from the device, that is, when these magnets were near the skin in the chest area. For fasteners, jewelry and badges, such a magnet arrangement is very likely, which means they can be dangerous. But situations are not excluded when other magnets can also negatively affect. For example, a magnet from a refrigerator can be put in a breast pocket or when the owner of a magnet on his chest presses tightly against a patient with a pacemaker on a crowded bus.
What we are going to do?
Considering all this, doctors say that all products with such magnets should be warned about their danger to patients with subcutaneous devices for normalizing the heart rhythm. And if it is not there, doctors should warn patients about it. By the way, magnet manufacturers are not against such warnings. For example, some of them already inform the firms to which they supply their magnets for the production of jewelry and other souvenirs.