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back to article Boffins find 'scary radio attack'* against pacemakers

It's a little difficult to credit as a discovery the fact that analogue receivers – whether they be on a bluetooth device or a pacemaker – are vulnerable to radio interference. That, however, is what's going to be presented at an IEEE conference later this week. Here's an excerpt of a story from America's Institution of …

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Silver badge

Remember Raytheon's "Radar Range"?

That's an "Amana microwave oven" to you kiddies ... It WAS dangerous to folks with pacemakers. Still is, in fact ... although my 1967 model (complete with working temperature probe!) is still quite functional otherwise.

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Black Helicopters

Re: Remember Raytheon's "Radar Range"?

I have actually witnessed a pacemaker being accidentally affected by a Panasonic 800W microwave oven. This occurred in 2004 at Christmas, when my mother put mince pies in the microwave oven for our guests.

Immediately she switched the oven on, the gentleman standing in the kitchen talking to her, appeared to go into panic/heart attack/fit. He survived without any long term effects as far as I know and was fine after a few minutes sitting to recover.

He explained that the microwave had interfered with his pacemaker and had sent it into 'Emergency Mode'.

It should be noted that the microwave was purchased around 1980.

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Anonymous Coward

I got you a new iPhone Grandad.

Whats this "iStop" app do then son ?

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Bronze badge
Holmes

RFI

Any sensitive electronic equipment can be damaged by RFI (see icon).

The only what is the damage done and what sort of signal you need. If your pacemaker is damaged by a phone then a version with shielding is needed. But given enough 'oomph' - maybe an EMP device such as an Explosively pumped flux compression generator- you will fry electronics

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M7S
Bronze badge

Re: RFI

The trouble with shielding is that the device is designed to detect extremely faint signals and then react appropriately to them (or their absence, but some cardiac waveforms require action so it's not just a simple "absence of signal = shock now" issue). It's the same as when the ambulance crew turn up with a monitor and start putting ten sticky pads on you (12-lead is actually a slight misnomer) or you're in a cath lab. The human central nervous system and the heart don't exactly work only in a regulated frequency band and all those leads are in effect antennae (ariels?) that could also pick up lots of stuff around. One reason (perhaps less of an issue now) why in some areas of some hospitals you are requested to turn off your mobile phone, airwave handset etc.

The "fault" really lies with the design of things like the sino-atrial node. You could complain to the creationists or those supporting "intelligent design", but other than that your options might be a bit limited.

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aqk
Flame

Just great! I have a pacemaker.

News I need to know.

I had a pacemaker installed six months ago because of bradycardia (slow heartbeat- it was down to 27-30 bpm). It didn't realy bother me,except wen I ran or climbed stairs.

It was a temporary condition because .. aw too long here to explain- just see http://curmudgeon.tk - 2nd or 3rd item down - "Lyme Disease - for the shiitty explanation.

Now I'm stuck with this useless pacemaker until some hacker decides to up me to 200bpm to see how fast I can breakdance...

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