Fear Not, Says Mayo, Your Prius Won’t Pop Your Pacemaker

Have you ever thought that those riding in electric cars who have implanted cardiac devices such as pacemakers and defibrillators might be at risk for those items malfunctioning because of electromagnetic interference (EMI)? Yup, neither had we. That’s why it is good to know the folks at Mayo Clinic took the time to research this interesting issue, finding those in EVs are not at risk for EMI problems.

Luis R. Scott, M.D., Cardiologist, and Fernando Tondato, M.D., Cardiology Fellow, both of Mayo Clinic in Arizona, were the study’s lead investigators. Running on the hypothesis that, in some cases, “implanted devices may sense signals from electrical or magnetic objects and misinterpreted them as potential distress coming from the patient’s heart,” they set about seeing if those in vehicles like the Nissan Leaf or Toyota Prius might be harming themselves while trying to save the planet or some fuel money.

Toyota Prius

image via Toyota

Believed to be the first study of its kind specifically addressing possible interactions between these devices and electric cars, 30 participants with implanted devices were continuously monitored while rotating positions in the car, a 2012 Toyota Prius, and driving the car, “with a particular focus on real-time detection of any interruption in the normal functionality of their devices.”

Electric and magnetic fields were measured in six positions, according to the study authors, from the driver’s seat, front passenger seat, the left and right rear seats and in front of and behind the car from the outside. Each position was evaluated at different speeds: 30 mph, 60 mph and at variable speeds of acceleration and deceleration. No negative results were found.

Even with the net take away being a positive outcome (i.e. the car tested did not generate clinically relevant amounts of EMI), Scott and Tondato called for additional study given that vehicles with electric drivetrains are becoming more and more common on the roads.  “Further studies may be necessary to evaluate the interaction between implantable devices and other models of hybrid or electric cars,” said Dr. Scott in a statement.

I am the editor-in-chief and founder for EarthTechling. This site is my desire to bring the world of green technology to consumers in a timely and informative matter. Prior to this my previous ventures have included a strong freelance writing career and time spent at Silicon Valley start ups.

    • David

      “Electric and magnetic fields were measured in six positions, according
      to the study authors, from the driver’s seat, front passenger seat, the
      left and right rear seats and in front of and behind the car from the
      outside. Each position was evaluated at different speeds: 30 mph, 60 mph
      and at variable speeds of acceleration and deceleration.”

      I would hate to be the test subject who had to be in front of or behind the car during those 30 and 60 mph tests.