Study: MP3 headphones break pacemakers

Make sure to keep headphones at least 3cm away from a pacemaker or defibrillator, otherwise it might prove fatal

A new study of 60 patients fitted with pacemaker and defibrillator devices claims that magnetic interference from MP3/iPod headphones could be potentially fatal.

Interference from the 'phones could temporarily deactivate such surgically implanted devices, with the research team at Beth Israel Medical Centre in Boston, Massachusetts advising patients to ensure headphones are at least more than 3cm away from their pacemaker or defibrillator.

William Maisel, director of the research advises "family members or friends of patients with implantable defibrillators… should avoid wearing headphones and resting their head right on top of someone's device."

All headphones a problem

Maisel's researchers tested eight different types and styles of headphones (over-ear, in-ear, clip-on and so on) all connected to an iPod.

"When a magnet is placed on a defibrillator, it temporarily deactivates the device," said Maisel.

"In other words the defibrillator stops looking for dangerous fast heart rhythms, and if a patient had a life-threatening heart rhythm problem while the magnet was over the device, it would not treat it."