Electric Cars: No Effect on Implanted Cardiac Devices

03/13/2013

Photo: Plug of an electric car

Electromagnetic fields in electric cars do not interfere with implanted cardiac devices, a current study finds; © panthermedia.net/Andrea Lehmkuhl

A Mayo Clinic study has concluded that patients with implanted cardiac devices such as pacemakers and defibrillators can safely drive or ride in an electric car without risk of electromagnetic interference (EMI).

The study is the first of its kind to address the interaction between these devices and electric cars. In some cases, implanted devices may sense signals from electrical or magnetic objects and misinterpreted them as potential distress coming from the patient's heart.

The increasing prevalence of electric and hybrid cars, one of the fastest growing segments of the American automotive industry, prompted Mayo Clinic cardiac investigators to study the potential risk of the effects of EMI on patients with implantable devices. The researchers used implantable devices from the three major manufacturers and a 2012 Toyota Prius hybrid in the study. Electric and magnetic fields were measured in six positions: from the driver's seat, front passenger seat, the left and right rear seats and in front of and behind the car from the outside. Each position was evaluated at different speeds: 30 mph, 60 mph and at variable speeds of acceleration and deceleration.

The 30 study participants with implanted devices were continuously monitored while rotating positions in the car and driving the car, with a particular focus on real-time detection of any interruption in the normal functionality of their devices.

Medical doctor Luis R. Scott, Cardiologist, and medical doctor Fernando Tondato, Cardiology Fellow, both of Mayo Clinic in Arizona and the study's lead investigators, called for additional study. They said that although the study results revealed that the car tested did not generate clinically relevant amounts of EMI and that the car is safe for patients with implanted devices, more research will help define and solidify the results. "Further studies may be necessary to evaluate the interaction between implantable devices and other models of hybrid or electric cars," says Scott.

MEDICA.de; Source: Mayo Clinic