Could Your E-Cig Disrupt Your Pacemaker?

March 16, 2020, at 9:00 a.m.

U.S. News & World Report

By Rich Holmes
HealthDay Reporter


MONDAY, March 16, 2020 (HealthDay News) — The magnets in vaping devices might be able to wreak havoc on heart pacemakers and defibrillators, a new case report suggests.

By placing a Juul in his shirt pocket, a heart patient caused his implanted pacemaker and defibrillator to malfunction, his health care providers said.

“To our knowledge, this is the first time it’s been reported,” said report author Julie Shea, nurse practitioner at the Cardiovascular Arrhythmia Service at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston.

The 48-year-old male patient had a history of irregular heartbeats, or arrhythmia. A magnet in the e-cigarette kept his implanted cardioverter-defibrillator (ICD) from detecting and correcting episodes of arrhythmia, Shea said.

Fortunately, the man experienced no deadly episodes of arrhythmia before the problem was discovered and resolved, his doctors said.

Heart patients are warned to keep devices or objects that contain magnets or create a magnetic field away from their implanted pacemakers and defibrillators, Shea said. These include power tools, bank cards and name tags with magnetic strips, and cellphones. “Never store them in a shirt or jacket pocket,” she said.

But a warning about vaping devices has not been made until now, Shea said.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration says research doesn’t indicate cellphones pose a significant risk to pacemaker operation, but recommends not storing it in a pocket directly over the pacemaker. The American Heart Association gives similar advice, suggesting cellphones and devices containing magnets be kept 6 inches away from pacemakers and defibrillators.

Shea and co-author Dr. Usha Tedrow, director of the Clinical Cardiac Electrophysiology Program at the Cardiovascular Arrhythmia Service at Brigham and Women’s, were first tipped off to the problem when the patient told them his combination pacemaker/ICD had emitted a warning tone several times. However, remote monitoring showed his heart device was working normally. He also complained of no ill symptoms and said he hadn’t had any magnetic devices near his chest.

But when they checked with the devices’ manufacturer for further information, data showed magnetic interaction had occurred at four times when the man had heard the tone.

“I actually saw that device” when the patient visited the office, Shea said. “I asked him, ‘What is that in your pocket?'”

The man then said the Juul had been in his chest pocket when his cardiac device had sounded the tone.

The findings were published March 16 in the journal HeartRhythm Case Reports.

The case study is a warning, Shea said, but the authors cannot extend it to all brands and models of vaping devices, as they only studied the Juul.

“Our intent is educational for providers and patients,” she noted. “We want our colleagues to be aware.”

Tedrow said heart patients who use Juuls could continue to use them “with adequate education.”

According to Juul Labs’ website, a Juul uses magnets to secure it to its USB charging dock. The company suggests keeping Juuls away from items with magnetic strips, such as credit cards, and cautions that the magnets may trigger a laptop to switch into sleep mode when using a computer’s USB port to charge. The website also says its products meet international safety standards for electromagnetic compatibility. The company did not respond to requests for comment.

Dr. Dhanunjaya Lakkireddy, executive medical director of electrophysiology at the Kansas City Heart Rhythm Institute, said e-cigarettes should not be kept in chest pockets. He said older pacemakers and combination pacemaker/ICDs would be more vulnerable to magnets in vaping devices, as newer models are now shielded.

Still, Lakkireddy, who wasn’t part of the study, cautioned that if a Juul’s magnets can cause a laptop to go into sleep mode, they might well cause a pacemaker/ICD to malfunction.

“The FDA needs to go back and look at these,” said Lakkireddy.

More information

To learn more about keeping pacemakers and ICDs safe from magnetic fields, go to the American Heart Association.

Copyright © 2020 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

TFND Now Taking Submissions for Third Annual Video Essay Scholarship Contest

Tobacco Free North Dakota Holds Video Essay Scholarship Contest

TFND announces the third annual Video Essay Scholarship Contest for all ND high school seniors.

TFND is a statewide non-profit that advocates for policies to prevent youth initiation to tobacco and nicotine products with the goal of creating North Dakota’s first tobacco free generation.

North Dakota high school seniors will have the opportunity to compete for a $1000 college scholarship. To participate students must submit a 1-3 minute video based on topics chosen by TFND. The contest is open to all high school seniors.

This year’s topics are:

  • Raising the Price of Tobacco to Prevent Youth/Young Adult Use
  • The Dangers of JUUL and/or Vaping
  • Why I stay Tobacco/Nicotine/Vape Free!
  • North Dakota has one of the BEST smoke-free air laws in the country! Let’s keep it that way.

TFND will take in video entries till the submission deadline which is 11:59pm on March 27, 2020. A committee will select the top five videos, which will then be displayed at and voted on by the public March 30-April 12, 2020. The winner will receive a $1,000 college scholarship! TFND will present the prize and take photos with the winner prior to April 30, 2020 if possible.

Full details can be found in the Video Essay Scholarship forms attached to this release, along with TFND’s website.

If you have any questions or concerns, email Andrew Horn, TFND’s Coalition Program Director, at

For more information about Tobacco Free North Dakota follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

A link to all necessary forms and information: 2020 Video Essay Scholarship Press Packet

The mission of Tobacco Free North Dakota is to improve and protect the public health of all North Dakotans by reducing the serious health and economic consequences of tobacco use, the state’s number one cause of preventable disease and death.


TFND Hires New Staff

Tobacco Prevention Youth Summit

130 students from across North Dakota gathered at the Best Western Ramkota Hotel in Bismarck to learn about tobacco prevention and to express their support. On cards they listed why they are not going to be a replacement customer for Tobacco Companies. #NotAReplacement


Tobacco Free Day at the Capitol

Heather Austin, Executive Director of TFND, spoke to students about tobacco prevention and the various speakers welcomed the students to the Capitol. Students had the opportunity to eat lunch and speak to legislators.

Tobacco Free Day

The American Cancer Society coordinated with Tobacco Free North Dakota to plan an event for North Dakotan Students on Tobacco Free Day. Students from all across North Dakota gathered to meet with their legislators to talk about tobacco free policies. Here are the students listening to a presentation by Heather Austin, TFND Executive Director, before they head over to the Capitol building! #NDTobaccoFreeDay #ndleg

TFND Banquet 2019

Tobacco tax increase proposed in ND

by John Salling KFYR-TV

North Dakota has the fourth lowest state tobacco tax in the country. Forty-four cents a pack, only Missouri, Virginia and Georgia have a lower tax.

Tobacco Free NORTH DAKOTA says that tobacco related health problems are the leading cause of death in North Dakota. They proposed to the Interim Health Commission to raise the tobacco tax to a dollar ninety four per pack of cigarettes.

“Costs of many things have gone up in the last twenty five years, but our tax rate has held steady and so the value of that tax dollar has diminished over time as health care costs rise, as insurance rates rise,” said Heather Austin, Tobacco Free North Dakota executive director.

Tobacco Free North Dakota also wants to add a tax for electronic cigarettes, which they say currently aren’t taxed in North Dakota.

The Great American Smoke Out

By Malique Rankin KX News

Today is the Great American Smoke out– where thousands of Americans say no to cigarettes. The event is sponsored by the American Cancer Society, and they’ve helped tobacco users quit smoking for more than 40 years. For people on the fence about quitting, the goal is to give them a day to make it happen. North Dakota’s smoking rate is at 19.8 percent, nearly 6 percent higher than the national average, according to the Campaign for Tobacco Free Kid. We spoke with one man who has been tobacco free for over 20 years on how he made the life-changing decision.

Jerry Grosz; Tobacco Free: “Well I look at the fact that my family, I didn’t want them to be subjected to that environment. And just, personal health.”

Tobacco use is the leading cause of preventable death and disease in North Dakota.

University of Mary Community Fair

We had a great time getting to talk to students about TFND at the University of Mary Community Fair.