Smart-sensing technology may alter implantable heart devices

A person holds a pacemaker.

Smart devices that send electric currents throughout the body to gauge different metrics, such as heart rate, body temperature, and body water content, may interfere with implantable medical devices that support the heart’s rhythm and function.

Through a paper published in
Heart Rhythm, researchers describe assessing hundreds of computer simulations, representing male and female models, that they used to study the impact that certain smart devices, including watches, rings, and scales, could have on implantable cardiac devices. Overall, they recommend people using defibrillators and pacemakers avoid using smart technology that sends electric currents throughout the body. While the researchers saw variations with currents transmitted by the technology, which could be due to body size, the placement of the electric current, or the device, they still found these signals could alter the cardiac devices.

Since this preliminary study was conducted to generate baseline data, the authors note additional research is needed to assess the safety of smart devices for people using implantable cardiac devices. The research was supported by NHLBI.