Motor on, heart patients: Electric cars don't harm cardiac implants

November 14, 2017

(HealthDay)—Heart patients who've bought an all-electric Tesla need not worry that their car might interfere with their implanted defibrillator.

That's the finding from a new study of 34 seniors who had the devices, which help guard against dangerous irregular heartbeats.

The study "demonstrates the safety of the Tesla electric vehicle in patients with cardiac defibrillators and is the first step in establishing that these vehicles are safe for patients with cardiac devices," said Dr. Apoor Patel, who reviewed the findings.

Patel is a cardiac electrophysiologist at Northwell Health's Sandra Atlas Bass Heart Hospital, in Manhasset, NY. He believes the study will "need to be replicated [in] other vehicles," but also noted that "the Tesla generated the most electrical activity during charging."

The new study was led by Drs. Thein Tun Aung and Abdul Wase, of Good Samaritan Hospital in Dayton, Ohio. The findings were to be presented Monday in Anaheim, Calif., at the annual meeting of the American Heart Association.

As Patel noted, "although electric vehicles are a small part of the total U.S. car market, sales are growing 30 to 40 percent annually." And there's been concern that electric vehicle technologies might somehow interfere with pacemakers and implanted defibrillators.

To help settle the question, the Dayton team tracked outcomes for 26 men and eight women, averaging 69 years of age. All had an implanted cardiac defibrillator.

The participants' devices were monitored for electromagnetic interference as they were in or near a Tesla S P90D as it was charged at a 220 volt charging station. People were tested in a variety of positions—sitting in the driver's seat, passenger seat, backseat and while next to the charging port.

The tests—done even at the defibrillators' most sensitive setting—showed that the devices "did not sense the electromagnetic signal from the electric vehicle battery," according to an AHA news release. There was no evidence that being in or near the car while it was charging triggered a shock from the defibrillator or otherwise interfered with it, the researchers said.

Dr. Khabir Bjasin directs cardiac electrophysiology at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City. He explained that theoretically, at least, any electronic device might send out signals that could confuse a cardiac implant into functioning inappropriately.

Reading over the new findings, he said that "this study effectively demonstrates that the level of electromagnetic interference emitted by electric vehicles is too low to interfere with [implanted defibrillators]," so people who have them "can safely drive or ride in these vehicles."

More study is needed, however, and experts do note that studies presented at medical meetings are considered preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed journal.

Explore further: Study finds electric car does not interfere with implanted cardiac devices

More information: Kabir Bhasin, M.D., director, clinical education, cardiac electrophysiology, Lenox Hill Hospital, New York City; Apoor Patel, M.D., director, complex ablations, department of electrophysiology, Northwell Health's Sandra Atlas Bass Heart Hospital, Manhasset, N.Y.; Nov. 13, 2017, presentation, American Heart Association annual meeting, Anaheim, Calif.

Find out more about implanted defibrillators at the U.S. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute.

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3 comments

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antialias_physorg
3.5 / 5 (2) Nov 14, 2017
charging an electric vehicle battery at 220 Volts

Just FYI: People are charging all kinds of things at 230-240V in Europe. People are exposed to WAY more EM radiation while waiting at tramway or train stops. No. People with implanted defibrillators or pacemakers or brain stimulators (which are implanted for some people who have extreme epileptic seizures) are not keeling over because of this.
This is one study they could have skipped.
Zzzzzzzz
not rated yet Nov 14, 2017
I am thinking there were plenty of naysayers crowing about the danger....
julianpenrod
1 / 5 (1) Nov 14, 2017
Note the craven use of language.
If "testing" indicated that driving a Tesla could, in some cases, better one's likelihood of being on time, the article would call the Tesla a "guarantee" of being on time. Only inside the article would they say that it might possible help someone get places on time more often than otherwise.
This is one of the few times ever that Phys Org places a conditional in the title, saying, "Driving a Tesla may not trip your defibrillator". They don't dare take the chance of saying driving a Tesla definitely won't trigger a defibrillator. Here, they make certain to be direct. It's only with respect to promises they don't expect to be actually sued over that they misrepresent.

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