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Study Finds No Risk Electric Car Technology Interferes with Pacemakers, Defibrillators

New research appears to confirm that technology used to power electric cars does not pose a risk for individuals with implantable pacemakers and defibrillators, allaying concerns that magnetic interference may disrupt the heart devices or cause adverse health consequences.

In a letter published in the Annals of Internal Medicine on April 24, researchers outlined the findings of a study intended to address concerns that electronic cars may cause some electronic heart devices to malfunction.

An implantable cardioverter defibrillators (ICD) is a heart device that is put either in the chest or abdomen, to perform cardioversion, defibrillation and pacing of the heart. The device is designed to recognize the presence of cardiac events and irregular heart-beats called arrhythmias, and automatically correct and control the pace of the heart to prevent life-threatening injuries.

Implantable heart devices have the potential to be disrupted when there is a presence of a strong magnetic field, which can create electrical noise that can be interpreted by a cardiac device as the heart’s own signal and result in life threatening consequences.

Individuals who have an ICD for conditions such as bradycardia, tachycardia, and heart failure that experience disruption could suffer serious injury or death.

Lead author of the study, Dr. Carsten Lennerz, senior physician at the German Heart Centre in Munich, Germany, recruited 108 people with ICD’s to take part in a simulated driving test. The participants sat in the BMWI i3, the Nissan Leaf, Tesla Model 85S and Volkswagen’s e-up electric vehicles.

The volunteers were instructed to both stand by the vehicles while it was being charged and to sit in the front seat of the cars while driving was simulated using a roller test bench indoors.

Testing identified the highest recordings of magnetic field strength was when individuals were standing next to the charging cable when the car was charging, however no interference was recorded in either instance.

Researchers pointed out that the electric vehicles are designed with electromagnetic shields that protect onboard computer systems from malfunctioning due to the electromagnetic interference. The design of these shields were found to also prevent individuals with ICD’s from experiencing disruption.

A similar study was previously submitted to the American Heart Association in November when researchers presented a test of 34 seniors with ICD’s had no interference when driving a Tesla electric car.

Lennerz concluded that there is currently no evidence of adverse electromagnetic interference from electric cars for individuals with ICD’s.

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