At the Mayo Clinic, renowned for its expertise in cardiac care, a patient recently posed a question that apparently nobody had ever asked: Will the electronics in hybrid cars interfere with implanted cardiac devices? After a bunch of tests, the heart doctors found the answer is no.
A recently reported study is the first of its kind to address electromagnetic interference between implanted medical devices and electric or hybrid cars, according to the researchers. After the patient brought it up, doctors realized there were no studies that specifically addressed this question, explains Dr. Luis R. Scott, a cardiologist at Mayo Clinic's Arizona offices. So they created one.
The researchers worked with the Toyota Prius, the most common hybrid. Patients with implanted defibrillators or pacemakers were recruited to drive a Prius in different conditions, and to sit in various locations in the car. While the car was driving, the doctors tested the amount of electromagnetic interference emitted by the electronics, and measured this against the activity of the patients' existing implants. They found the devices were indeed exposed to electromagnetic fields inside the car, but the amount of interference wasn't worrisome, Scott said.
"Based on our study, we found no reason to be concerned about riding or driving a hybrid automobile," he said.
Ever cautious, however, the researchers note that the results are really only applicable to a Prius. Other cars have different electronics and could produce varying electromagnetic fields, which may or may not interfere with medical devices. The study was presented at the 2013 American College of Cardiology Annual Scientific Session in San Francisco.
Science confirms the obvious.
But those heart patients must have also been head patients. How on earth did they convince them to sit in that car?
"Hey dude, sit in this car let me see if it stops your heart."
killer T - They most certainly voluntarily got in the car for the peace of mind that knowing the safety of riding in that car would offer them. Imagine being unable to go somewhere with a friend because of the kind of car they drive. Electromagnetic fields don't generally stop a pacemaker, they usually send it to 'autopace' at about 100 bpm OR can make it increase the heart rate or go into a irregular rhythm. Ironically, I just put my daughter in the same type of situation. We placed some devices that could cause interference with her pacemaker near her pacemaker...but we were at the cardiologists office and he had a monitor on her pacemaker, as I'm sure they did during the testing mentioned in the article.
The peace of mind knowing that my daughter can safely use her iPad and the r/c controller for a model boat is PRICELESS! She gets to be 'just like everyone else' and doesn't have to worry.
This is not too surprising as Toyo and other hybrid manufacturers should be thinking along these lines.
The situation might be a bit worse for the hybrid mechanic. They could have to spend time near the powerplant and it's controller. Not that maintenance folks in other areas don't face similar issues. I'm just pointing out that users aren't the only folks involved.
As to earlier comments re the test subjects, one would HOPE that the Mayo had made measurements prior to the live testing.
The high voltage circuits in a battery-electric hybrid car present a serious hazard for anyone, and not just those with pacemakers. The 200+V of a Prius battery pack is sufficient to cause cardiac arrest when someone is shocked by it.