Safety of smartwatches and their chargers in patients with cardiac implantable electronic devices

Europace. 2020 Oct 10;euaa220. doi: 10.1093/europace/euaa220. Online ahead of print.


Aims: Cardiac implantable electronic devices (CIEDs) are susceptible to electromagnetic interference (EMI). Smartwatches and their chargers could be a possible source of EMI. We sought to assess whether the latest generation smartwatches and their chargers interfere with proper CIED function.

Methods and results: We included consecutive CIED recipients in two centres. We tested two latest generation smartwatches (Apple Watch and Samsung Galaxy Watch) and their charging cables for potential EMI. The testing was performed under continuous electrocardiogram recording and real-time device telemetry, with nominal and 'worst-case' settings. In vitro magnetic field measurements were performed to assess the emissions from the tested devices, initially in contact with the probe and then at a distance of 10 cm and 20 cm. In total, 171 patients with CIEDs (71.3% pacemakers-28.7% implantable cardioverter-defibrillators) from five manufacturers were enrolled (63.2% males, 74.8 ± 11.4 years), resulting in 684 EMI tests. No EMI was identified in any patient either under nominal or 'worst-case scenario' programming. The peak magnetic flux density emitted by the smartwatches was similar to the background noise level (0.81 μT) even when in contact with the measuring probe. The respective values for the chargers were 4.696 μΤ and 4.299 μΤ for the Samsung and Apple chargers, respectively, which fell at the background noise level when placed at 20 cm and 10 cm, respectively.

Conclusion: Two latest generation smartwatches and their chargers resulted in no EMI in CIED recipients. The absence of EMI in conjunction with the extremely low intensity of magnetic fields emitted by these devices support the safety of their use by CIED patients.

Keywords: Cardiac implantable electronic device; Electromagnetic interference; Smartwatch.