Interference between mobile phones and pacemakers: a look inside

Ann Ist Super Sanita. 2007;43(3):254-9.


In this study we analyzed the problem of electromagnetic interference (EMI) between mobile telephones and cardiac pacemakers (PM), by looking at the mechanisms by which the radiated radio frequency (RF) GSM signal may affect the pacemaker function. From a literature review on this topic, we noticed that older pacemakers had a higher rate of being affected by mobile phones when compared to newer ones. This is probably due to the fact that new generation of PM are more protected against electromagnetic field, being equipped with RF feedthrough filters incorporated to the internal PM circuitry. In some experiments conducted by our group, we found that modulated RF signals are somehow demodulated by the PM internal non-linear circuit elements, if no feedthrough assembly is incorporated inside the PM. Such demodulation phenomenon poses a critical problem because digital cellular phones use extremely low-frequency modulation (as low as 2 Hz), that can be mistaken for normal heartbeat. The feedthrough assembly seems instead to prevents the RF signals from accessing the PM enclosure, thus attenuating EMI signals over a broad range of frequencies.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Cell Phone*
  • Equipment Design
  • Equipment Failure
  • Pacemaker, Artificial*
  • Radio Waves*