Digital headphones pose health risk

Researchers claim it may interfere with heart pacemakers and defibrillators

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By  Vineetha Menon Published  November 10, 2008

Headphones used with MP3 digital music players may interfere with heart pacemakers and implantable defibrillators, according to researchers in the United States who revealed their findings at a recent American Heart Association meeting.

While the MP3 players pose no threat by themselves, tiny magnets inside the headphones can get in the way of the medical devices if placed within 1.2 inches.

A pacemaker sends electrical impulses to the heart to regulate cardiac rhythm. The magnet could make the device deliver a signal regardless of the current heart rate, increasing chances of palpitation or arrhythmia.

Patients are advised to not place headphones near their chest after use. Similarly, others wearing headphones should not rest their head on the patient's chest.

It’s the latest health scare surrounding digital music players after a report released last month by the European Union's Scientific Committee claimed that music over 90 decibels pumped into the ears for long periods of time is actually louder than currently allowed in factories and can lead to deafness.

Sounds that hit the eardrum when using 'in ear' headphones can easily reach 120 decibels, and the report warned that not many people are aware of the risks of turning up the volume.

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