Smartwatches, rings and scales used to monitor fitness-related activities could interfere with the functioning of cardiac implantable electronic devices (CIEDs) such as pacemakers, implantable cardioverter defibrillators (ICDs), and cardiac resynchronisation therapy (CRT) devices.
According to the study published Heart Rhythm journal researchers found that the current used in wearable smart gadgets during “bioimpedance sensing” interfered with proper functioning of some implanted cardiac devices from three leading manufacturers.
Bioimpedance sensing technology sends a small, imperceptible electrical current to measure the person’s body composition, including the level of body fat, muscle mass, level of stress and breathing rate.
University of Utah's Dr. Benjamin Sanchez Terrones bioimpedance sensing generated an electrical interference that exceeded Food and Drug Administration-accepted guidelines and interfered with proper CIED functioning.
Convey immediate or clear risks to patients who wear the trackers. However, the different levels of electrical current emitted by the wearable devices could result in pacing interruptions or unnecessary shocks to the heart. Further research was needed to determine the level of risk, Sanchez said.
The interaction between general electrical appliances – including smartphones – and CIEDs has been studied in recent years, but this is the first study to look at devices that use bioimpedance sensing technology and their possible interference with CIEDs.