Magnetic field-induced interactions between phones containing magnets and cardiovascular implantable electronic devices: Flip it to be safe?

Heart Rhythm. 2022 Mar;19(3):372-380. doi: 10.1016/j.hrthm.2021.11.010. Epub 2021 Nov 10.


Background: Recent case reports and small studies have reported activation of the magnet-sensitive switches in cardiovascular implantable electronic devices (CIEDs) by the new iPhone 12 series, initiating asynchronous pacing in pacemakers and suspension of antitachycardia therapies in implantable cardioverter-defibrillators (ICDs).

Objective: The purpose of this prospective single-center observational study was to quantify the risk of magnetic field interactions of the iPhone 12 with CIEDs.

Methods: A representative model of each CIED series from all manufacturers was tested ex vivo. Incidence and minimum distance necessary for magnet mode triggering were analyzed in 164 CIED patients with either the front or the back of the phone facing the device. The magnetic field of the iPhone 12 was analyzed using a 3-axis Hall probe.

Results: Ex vivo, magnetic interference occurred in 84.6% with the back compared to 46.2% with the front of the iPhone 12 facing the CIED. In vivo, activation of the magnet-sensitive switch occurred in 30 CIED patients (18.3%; 21 pacemaker, 9 ICD) when the iPhone 12 was placed in close proximity over the CIED pocket and the back of the phone was facing the skin. Multiple binary logistic regression analysis identified implantation depth (95% confidence interval 0.02-0.24) as an independent predictor of magnet-sensitive switch activation.

Conclusion: Magnetic field interactions occur only in close proximity and with precise alignment of the iPhone 12 and CIEDs. It is important to advise CIED patients to not put the iPhone 12 directly on the skin above the CIED. Further recommendations are not necessary.

Keywords: Cardiovascular implantable electronic device; Magnet-sensitive switch; Magnetic field interactions; Magnetic stray field; iPhone 12.

Publication types

  • Observational Study

MeSH terms

  • Defibrillators, Implantable* / adverse effects
  • Electronics
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Fields
  • Magnets
  • Pacemaker, Artificial* / adverse effects
  • Prospective Studies