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WTR’S PROGRESS REPORT SHOWS PHONE/PACEMAKER INTERFERENCE

WASHINGTON, D.C.-Wireless Technology Research L.L.C. issued a progress report confirming that wireless phones interfere with cardiac pacemakers to varying degrees. But, the report also notes that no pacemaker malfunction due to wireless phone interference has been reported to date.

In “Evaluation of Interference Between Hand-Held Wireless Phones and Implanted Cardiac Pacemakers: Recommendations for Corrective Intervention,” WTR reports that interference is mostly seen with digital phone technology rather than analog and all digital technologies appear able to induce interference.

An accompanying letter issued by WTR’s chairman, Dr. George Carlo, drew several other preliminary conclusions.

Different pacemaker manufacturers and models show variable susceptibility to interference with some designs appearing completely immune. Interference is more of a problem when the phone is held within inches of the pacemaker and nothing in the data thus far suggests that bystanders with pacemakers are at risk, the letter said.

Carlo said he doesn’t see anything in the new data to suggest that advisories currently in place in the United States and Canada are inadequate.

WTR does offer some interim clinical recommendations. People who are dependent on their pacemakers should use analog phones. People who are not dependent on their pacemakers can use digital phones but should avoid placing the phone over or near their implanted pacemaker site. Users should not put their phones in a breast pocket near their pacemaker when the phone is turned on.

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