There’s an urgent warning, just out, that impacts millions of older Americans who own a cellphone. But most of them HAVEN’T gotten the message.
It didn’t make huge headlines. And there wasn’t a major recall.
Most doctor’s offices didn’t even call patients to let them know about the danger, either. And, let’s face it, that’s not entirely surprising with medical offices everywhere being so swamped right now.
So I’m going to do my part to spread to word to the 3 million Americans with pacemakers and implantable defibrillators. And I’d appreciate it if you’d let your own friends and family know too. You can even just forward them this email if you like.
Because new research warns that the cellphones in nearly every home (and pocket) across America could cause real problems for these life-saving devices.
Now don’t panic. The danger isn’t likely to be deadly, just very uncomfortable. But there are some steps you can take to make yourself safer.
The hidden cellphone danger in your pocket
Allow me to be blunt. It’s shockingly irresponsible how quickly manufacturers rush every new gadget and gizmo to market before knowing how it could impact people. And without proper warnings attached.
Of course, a case in point is the cellphone—and its twin troublemaker, the smartwatch—which has become a part of our everyday lives.
There’s no doubt they’ve made life better in many ways for millions. But there’s also no question they’ve also made life worse for millions in ways that weren’t always obvious right away.
Take the ever-present blue light from these digital devices. We now know it can mess with our brain chemistry leading to serious sleep and metabolism problems for certain folks.
Some science points to them raising our risk of rare schwannoma tumors around the heart and brain tumors.
And then there’s the “zombie effect.” That’s when folks wander around staring into those little screens rather than paying attention to the world around them. It not only harms relationships, it often leads to literal injuries ranging from “tech-neck” to falls.
And don’t even get me started on the dangers of distracted driving.
But the new report reveals what may be the most shocking danger of all. Many cellphones and smartwatches are now capable of generating powerful magnetic fields. And these fields can be so strong that they could cause an implantable device to switch into “magnet mode” on its own.
This mode exists so doctors can have the devices operate at a specific fixed rate during surgery and other procedures where you’re constantly monitored. It’s why you’re not supposed to walk through certain types of airport security devices, which may also generate magnetic fields.
Beware of these warning signs
But those devices, of course, have huge warning signs posted on them. And most patients with pacemakers know about the dangers and have been told how to handle them. This cellphone and smartwatch danger is something new. And most folks with pacemakers or defibrillators haven’t been given any warnings or instructions for dealing with these gadgets.
The good news is, your cellphone isn’t likely to cause you to keel over or anything. At least, it hasn’t happened yet, as far as we know.
But the potential DOES exist for it to interfere with your implantable device, disrupt its function, and, in some cases, really ruin your day. For instance, you might feel lightheaded, dizzy, or have heart palpitations (a rapid, irregular heartbeat).
If this happens, separate yourself from the phone or watch right away. And check in with your heart doctor to see if he wants to see you to double-check everything is operating correctly.
What to do if you have a pacemaker or defibrillator
But don’t worry, you don’t have to swear off your cellphone cold-turkey or trash your watch. The new report finds they won’t trigger magnet mode if kept at least six inches away from your implant.
You should, however, be more careful with these devices. For example, if you have a pacemaker, you don’t want to plop the phone into your shirt pocket, even briefly. And definitely don’t kick back on the sofa reading something on your phone and accidentally fall asleep with it on your chest.
Given the other potential dangers of cellphone radiation, it’s a good idea to keep these devices off your body whenever possible, anyway. But at the very least, measure six inches from any device you may have implanted, such as a pacemaker or defibrillator, and make sure your phone or smartwatch is kept at least that distance away at all times.