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Research: Hybrid car is safe for cardiac implant patients

Your electric or hybrid car is safe to drive even if you have a implanted cardiac device such as a pacemaker, suggests new research from the Mayo Clinic in Arizona.

It has never been something of great concern, but it is reassuring to know that a scientific test backs up what we already suspected; that EVs and hybrids don’t pose a threat of electromagnetic interference (EMI) to those fitted with devices to regulate their heartbeat.

Toyota Prius 2012 by the beach

Cardiac devices such as implantable cardioverter-defibrillators (ICDs) and pacemakers, can in some cases, pick up signals from electrical or magnetic objects and misinterpreted them as potential distress coming from the patient's heart.

But in a study titled: “Hybrid Cars and Implantable Cardioverter Defibrillators: Is It Safe?” and presented at the 2013 American College of Cardiology Annual Scientific Session in San Francisco on Saturday (March 9, 2013), it was revealed that a battery-powered car failed to generate clinically relevant amounts of EMI, which might cause interference with heart devices.

Researchers from the non-profit Mayo Clinic studied the effects of driving a 2012 Toyota Prius Hybrid on implantable devices from three manufacturers. Electric and magnetic fields were measured in six positions: 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.

A total of 30 study participants with implanted devices were monitored while rotating positions in the car and monitored while driving the car, with a particular focus on real-time detection of any interruption in the normal functionality of their devices.

Luis R. Scott, M.D., Cardiologist, and Fernando Tondato, M.D., Cardiology Fellow, both of Mayo Clinic in Arizona said that while the results of their work appear to show that hybrids and electric vehicles are indeed safe for those with cardiac devices, more research still needs to be done.

"Further studies may be necessary to evaluate the interaction between implantable devices and other models of hybrid or electric cars," says Dr. Scott.

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Faye Sunderland

Filed under: Electric cars, Hybrid cars

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