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High-power chargers for electric vehicles: are they safe for patients with pacemakers and defibrillators?

AIMS: Battery electric vehicle (BEV) sales and use are rapidly expanding. Battery electric vehicles, along with their charging stations, are a potential source of electromagnetic interference (EMI) for patients with cardiac implantable electronic devices (CIEDs). The new 'high-power' charging stations have the potential to create strong electromagnetic fields and induce EMI in CIEDs, and their safety has not been evaluated.

METHODS AND RESULTS: A total of 130 CIED patients performed 561 charges of four BEVs and a test vehicle (350 kW charge capacity) using high-power charging stations under continuous 6-lead electrocardiogram monitoring. The charging cable was placed directly over the CIED, and devices were programmed to maximize the chance of EMI detection. Cardiac implantable electronic devices were re-interrogated after patients charged all BEVs and the test vehicle for evidence of EMI. There were no incidences of EMI, specifically no over-sensing, pacing inhibition, inappropriate tachycardia detection, mode switching, or spontaneous reprogramming. The risk of EMI on a patient-based analysis is 0/130 [95% confidence interval (CI) 0%-2%], and the risk of EMI on a charge-based analysis is 0/561 (95% CI 0%-0.6%). The effective magnetic field along the charging cable was 38.65 µT and at the charging station was 77.9 µT.

CONCLUSIONS: The use of electric cars with high-power chargers by patients with cardiac devices appears to be safe with no evidence of clinically relevant EMI. Reasonable caution, by minimizing the time spent in close proximity with the charging cables, is still advised as the occurrence of very rare events cannot be excluded from our results.

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