Relax, your electric car won’t short-circuit your pacemaker

Relax, your electric car won’t short-circuit your pacemaker

With more and more electric cars moving from the drawing board to the highways, their popularity is soaring. While advocates sing the praises of the new technology, some questions have been raised about the price of the vehicles, the scarcity of charging stations and the life of the batteries.

Thanks to a recent study by German scientists, one other question appears to have been answered: Electric cars, they found, won’t interfere with a person’s pacemaker.

In the study, reported in the Annals of Internal Medicine, researchers recruited people who were using pacemakers, implantable defibrillators and similar devices known as cardiovascular implantable electronic devices, or CIEDs. Altogether, 42 devices from seven manufacturers were tested under three conditions: with patients inside while the vehicle ran on a test bench, with patients in the car as it was being charged, and with patients as passengers while the car was driven on a road.

The team found the electromagnetic strength was highest when the cars were being charged, but there was no pacemaker inhibition, no shocks and no devices needed to be reprogrammed.

Electric cars are equipped with shielding to prevent electromagnetic interference with on-board computer systems, which the researchers said could explain the low electromagnetic strength inside the cars. This shielding may also be what protected the heart devices from any interference.

The results are good news for people with heart-helping devices who would like to go electric without putting their health at risk. The cars themselves won’t give you a jolt, but the dealership’s numbers could still give you sticker shock.

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