Warm Regards from iPod

24. September 2007

You want to impress your patients? How about his heart beat as an iPod file? Technically no problem. Just keep your eyes open when it comes to pacemakers - at least US cardiologists claim that in their new research.

Next to the stethoscope,the iPod has become the second most important status symbol for US physicians.So it does not really come as a surprise that someone sooner or later came upwith using both at the same time.

Better than any Techno-Music:The personal Heart-Beat

It certainly does not makea lot of sense with regular stethoscopes. But its wickedly expensive digitalsiblings are virtually crying out loud for an interface with the style icon ofthe babyboomer and down. The company Thinklabs has attended to this gap in the market and bridgesit with its stethoscope flagship ds32a offering a docking station allowing a smooth dataexchange with the iPod. A price of 645 US Dollars is fair taking intoconsideration that it includes a two gigabyte iPod nano. And if you decide tobuy several devices for your hospital you will even save another 150 USDollars. It does not take a lot of imagination to picture various potentialuser scenarios: Just imagine a stubborn eight-year-old born with a heartproblem, lifting his t-shirt during a cardiac check-up with a lousy mood. Butwhen he is getting out of the office, he is happily swinging his headphones.When he gets home, he will sit and take his systole andcreate his own techno rhythm delighting his buddies and driving his teachers upthe walls. And one year later, when Mum says "Sweetie, you are having anappointment with the doctor today", comes the prompt reply: "The guy with theawesome ear trumpet?"

IPod gets the pacemakerout of step and hampers with the reading out

Currently cardiologists ofthe Michigan State University are acting spoil-sports regarding iPod and heart.Those physicians made a research at the suggestion and participation of thehigh school student Jay Thaker checking on potential interferences between iPodand cardiac pacemakers. Something you ought to know though: Both of Thaker'sparents are doctors, his dad even an electro-physiologist. Young Thaker, who ofcourse wants to study medicine, presented the results of his examination series comparing four different iPod models on 83patients with pacemakers during a session at the Congress of the HeartRhythm Society in May 2007 in Denver, Colorado. The pacemakers includedone-chamber- and two-chamber systems and were made by different manufacturers. Overall,interferences were rather rare, but they appeared. 20 percent of the patientsshowed so-called oversensing-phenomena, with 29 percent interactions appeared withthe telemetric functions. One patient even had a reproducible failure of thepacer function, i. e. a missing pacemaker activity at a point where it actuallyshould show. "The observed interferences were not exactly life-threatening, butthey could be misinterpreted as atrialfibrillation or as ventricular tachycardiae", Thaker said in Denver. Healso reminded that pacemaker patients are not really the classic iPod targetgroup, but their grandchildren quite often have one. Thus the phenomenonpointed out could have a practical relevance.

Relevant? At most for dressshirt junkies…

Other experts query thatpractical relevance though. During the examination they held iPods for five toten seconds over the pulse generator – a worst case scenario – that might occurif somebody keeps his iPod in the left breast pocket of his dress shirt. "Inother situations this will most likely not be of relevance", said Dr. RichardTrohman of the Rush University in Chicago during the conference. And certainly,the iPod is not the first device in entertainment electronics that isassociated with pacemaker interferences. Time and again there are reports aboutinterferences with mobile phones , which actually inspired to get in touch withthe cardiologists at the Michigan State University in the matter of iPod. Pager-systems in clinics were blamed for interferences aswell. But in every-day's practical work, all this has a very limited relevance.

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