Airport scanners and more

Although my cardiologist warned me not to go through the scanners at airports or have prolonged contact with microwave ovens or certain other electronic equipment, I´ve been wondering if there are other devices I might come in contact that might not occur to me as being harmful. Obviously I´m not going into the innards of nuclear reactors or hanging out near high-tension electric generators, but are there machines a person might occasionally, or even rarely, come in contact with that most of us, including doctors, wouldn´t think about? For example, what if a company were to install a large 5G cell tower on the building next door, would I be at risk? Or what if the city decides to run a giant power line through my neighboring property? So many things are getting bigger and more powerful, it seems like this might become more of a concern.


8 Comments

How old is your doctor??

by Tracey_E - 2019-11-19 15:55:32

Microwaves have been safe for all of the 25 years I've been paced. Airport scanners have been safe for the last 5 or more years. There is virtually nothing you are going to encounter in day to day life that you need to avoid. Anything that could cause a problem would have to be both strong and within 6" of your device. So, try not to hug a generator. Honestly, I would have a lot of trouble trusting a doctor who still says avoid microwaves! 

Really poor advice you've received

by crustyg - 2019-11-19 16:19:40

To add to Tracey_E's excellent advice, there really are very few systems that are inflicted on you that have any real chance of causing PM problems.

You can cause more problems for yourself by taking up welding, or using a TENS unit for a frozen shoulder.

Crustyg

by PV Gringo - 2019-11-19 16:43:34

You´ve actually made my point for me. While I have no plans to take up welding, that is precisely the kind of thing that some people might indeed do. I could easily imagine a pacemaker wearer, now retired but wanting to take up metal sculpting, buying a welding iron without considering whether it might affect his or her pacemaker. The same for using a TENS unit. I could imagine  a pacemaker wearer using this for a frozen shoulder without giving it a thought. These are precisely the activities I´m referring to -- they´re not things most of us are going to do as part of our daily lives, but they´re far from being weird.  They´re activities anyone might engage in given the right circumstances.

things we can't do

by Tracey_E - 2019-11-19 17:07:47

use the electronic scales that calculate bmi. regular electronic scales are fine

I've been told TENS is fine on the extremeties but avoid on the torso. However, I'd had tens on my back many times before anyone told me that, no problems. When I had pt after a car accident, we did the tens and massage. They avoided anywhere close to my leads doing the massage. 

Don't tour a power plant. I've done that one too, no problems. But we aren't supposed to. I was touring with a friend who's an MD, we debated if it was a good idea to go into the generator room, we were both curious so I went in. Didn't feel a thing. It will never do permanent damage, worst case it puts us in test mode with a steady beat which means if we are dependent we will feel like crap for a few minutes. Once we get away from the source of the problem, it goes back to pacing normally. Nothing will turn it off or damage it. 

Roller coasters with magnetic brakes. Those are usually the newer ones with really fast starts and stops. 

ARC welding is a bad idea. Other types of welding are ok. 

Full contact sports like sparring in martial arts or tackle football. Again, probably won't damage anything but if you hit it hard it will HURT. 

Professional level training that involves the chest muscles. Regular workouts, even really hard workouts, are fine. But if you are rowing for hours a day or deadlifting 3x your bodyweight, you might mess up a lead. 

that's all I can think of right now. 

Im hopeful

by Pacer2019 - 2019-11-19 18:41:54

My family is coming over Saturday to rake my yard because I told then I cant use a leaf blower now that I have a pace maker .....shhhhhhhhhhhhhh :)

I'm gfonna add a complete thread

by donr - 2019-11-19 21:25:22

 

 

 

 

 

  Tracey, you & the old timers can go take a nap.  I'm posting my version of the REAL limitations,as I have learned them & posted every so often.  I decided to throw in an exchange w/ Electric Frank for the education of all the Newbies in here.  Electric Frank died in about 2012 at about 83 & was a true genius & superb wit.  He probably knew more about PM's & their inner workings & hidden mecchanisms than the guy who invented the PM.  He was the last of a very rare breed - an electrical engineer w/o a degree.  He was legally permitted to clain that title & work as an EE.  

Anyhoo. below is my version of the TRUE limitations that the PM places on yout life.

 

"Limitations on living w/ PM/ICD's

by donr - 2012-05-22 06:05:40 Edit

PM Limitations
Comment posted by donr on 2012-05-02 01:14.
OK, you asked for it - my world famous list of the REAL limitations on what we PM Hosts cannot do, culled from a plethora of experiences reported on this site. After you read this, you will be firmly convinced that I haven't a serious bone in my head. Also, you will realize that if I closed my jaw while writing this that I'd bite my tongue off. This is edited down from about 5 comments I've made in a matter of months.

Don

Every Newbie worries about what they can/cannot do. Well, I did also - 9 yrs ago - & since then have developed a list of limitations to explain PM's to the Newbie.

In practice, there are few limitations - we have to find out how we each react to potential threats to our PM's. BUT - there are some very real limitations - I've addressed them below.


For starters, EVERY speaker has a magnet in it. You need not worry about them, unless you grab a great big honkin' ole bass speaker & hug it to your chest. & then it may not affect you. General rule - just keep magnets away from your PM site - 6 inches will do. One woman here this week had a problem w/ a super magnet clutch on a whopping purse. It's not the SIZE of the magnet, it's the STRENGTH of it & super magnets are tough ittle suckers.

Read around in here & you will find out that we collectively lead pretty normal lives.

The day before I had my PM put in back in Feb 2003 I read the same little manual they gave you & choked! I was about to become an invalid! Oh, woe, is me! Got out of the hosp 2 days later (I had problems not related to the surgery that they wanted to ensure were stable) & wife drove me home. Stopped at Home Depot on the way & picked up a bunch of lumber for our house we were building. Ate lunch at the local Cracker Barrel & ran a few other errands. All the while, I was looking for Arnold Schwartzenegger - I felt so good I was ready to take on the World. Normally, I'd look for new - born babies for a start, but today I felt so good, I was ready for Ahnald!

Then reality set in - I temporarily could not drive; couldn't raise the elbow above the shoulder; couldn't lift more than 5 lbs; couldn't take a shower & get the scar wet. All those niggling little things that follow any surgery.

Well, harsh reality set in as I slowly figured out what was real & what was a great, big, CYA horse blanket for the Medtronics Co. Here's what I learned:

1) I can no longer work as a pneumatic jack hammer operator for a highway crew demolishing concrete all day. Besides, I'll bet you couldn't either cause you don't smoke smelly cigars or have a big belly that flops out over the handle of the Jack hammer.

2) Operating a chainsaw ALL DAY is also a no-no. As is operating a gas-powered weed eater. But, OTOH, why should any man (or ANY woman for that matter, regardless of age) want to do those things anyway???? The book said the ignition MIGHT interfere w/ the PM, or if you have the RATE RESPONSE function turned on the vibration MIGHT affect that. The ignition system DOES NOT affect my PM (Don't ask how I know) & I don't have the RR turned on. Besides, Who, in their right mind wants to do those things ALL DAY? Only Paul Bunyan, & you probably don't have a Big Blue Ox named "Babe." Also, Electric Frank, but he's another case - & he gave up part of the chainsaw work when he ran out of chains to saw & stuck to trees..

3) You cannot climb the Channel 5 TV tower & hug the antenna output - might affect the operation of the PM. Channel 1 is OK, however - IF you can find a channel 1 somewhere.

4) You should not enter the Thai National Kick-Boxing Championships. Short as those guys are, they can kick pretty high.

5) You should NOT run away, join the circus & become a member of the "Flying Walendas" trapeze artists.

5a) You should not run away & join the professional rodeo circuit as a Lady Bronc Buster, steer rider, bull dogger, or goat roper.

6) You should NOT take up Skeet or Trap shooting, using a 10 gage shotgun that you place against the shoulder where your PM is located. You can, however, if you use a pop gun that shoots a cork.

7) Do not take up African big game hunting using any rifle larger caliber than a US .22 rim fire.

8) You cannot get a job in a super magnet factory testing magnets that hold name tags on clothes at the site of your PM.

Also, EVERY speaker has a magnet in it. You need not worry about them, unless you grab a great big honkin' ole bass speaker & hug the magnet end to your chest. & then it may not affect you. General rule - just keep magnets away from your PM site - 6 inches will do.

Also, also, One woman here this week had a problem w/ a super magnet clutch on a whopping purse. It's not the SIZE of the magnet, it's the STRENGTH of it & super magnets are tough ittle suckers.


9) Not last, but not least, DO NOT to join the Marines w/ a view toward earning a spot on a rifle drill team. Throwing that M-14 rifle up into "Left Shoulder Arms" will hurt like Heck when it smacks the PM site.

10) You cannot swing from the dining room chandelier ( like an rangutang) by the arm on the PM side while feeding yourself a banana w/ the other hand.

11) Just remembered this one while talking w/ my "Baby Sister," who is 65 this year. It is not recommended that you swim around in the tank at Sea World in Orlando where they keep the pelagic sharks (Tigers, great white, hammerhead, etc). When I asked Medtronics about doing that, they said they didn't know if it was safe or not. Those sharks in particular can sense weak electrical fields emitted by their prey & they had no idea if the PM fields were strong enough to attract them.

12) Do not fall in w/ a crowd of rowdy college students whose idea of fun is to crawl inside a BIG microwave oven & turn it on. After it fries your eyeballs like a pair of sunny side up eggs, it might fry your PM.

13) Power tools (including hair dryers) : I operate all sorts of corded & battery operated power tools - no effect on PM. I've operated all sorts of ELECTRIC hammer drills, breaking concrete - but they are relatively small & don't beat me up. I'd guess that the hair dryer falls into this category. On many occasions, I've leaned into a tool w/ its back end right against my sternum, inches from my PM - no effect.

14) Transformers: I have a large, green transformer box in my front yard that supplies electricity to my house. The input is about 13,000 volts & the output is 240 volts. Hence there are some pretty healthy electric & magnetic fields inside the box. I routinely sit on it while taking a break while working in the yard, & once, w/o thinking, I actually laid down across it on my chest w/o any ill effect!

Those are the REAL restrictions. All the rest are kinda nebulous. Given physical healing time - about 6 weeks, you can drive, do anything reasonable for a woman (or man) your age, & live a normal life.

If you read here long enough, you'll find out the things we all do & be amazed. You just have to creep up on them slowly to find out what affects YOUR PM.

I hunt deer & ducks - but limit fire arm use to .257 Roberts & 20 gage - not much recoil. I get near magnets all the time, but stay away from those that are right over my PM. I hammer, nail, do all sorts of construction at home & at daughter's houses. Less than a yr after getting my PM, I took an 18 mile hike w/ a bunch of teenagers - at night on rough terrain. PM did fine - I did not. Tripped over a boulder & bruised a thigh muscle. Couldn't walk w/o crutches for a week. PM sneered at me for being a wimp & just kept on ticking, just like the Energizer Bunny!

To take tongue out of cheek - You have to stay away from MRI's unless you have a PM that is MRI compatible.

How tough is a PM & its leads? I took a Jeep Cherokee at 35 mph into the RIGHT shoulder 6 weeks after getting a new lead implanted. No effect on the PM system. Pretty well busted me up, however - 12 days in hosp.
 

Electric shocks

by donr - 2012-05-22 06:05:49 Edit

Tom: Well, I also just read the letter. Dunno how new you are to hosting a PM, but very new from your question.

The Medtronic letter is not half bad. It will make a blanket big enough to cover the posteriors of an entire herd of elephants - but what do you expect from a manufacturer? They have NO choice but to take that attitude.

If you have always been a home handyman, MY advice is - do exactly what you did before PM & you will be safe. I'm betting that Electric Frank will crawl out of his Arizona snake den sometime tonight & tell you essentially the same thing.

Here is MY experience w/ electrical issues since PM planting in Feb 2003:

1) I've taken 120 V AC shocks (By accident, I assure you) right hand to left hand (left hand to right hand when the polarity reversed ) w/ zero ill effect. I dutifully recorded the time of the event & next download looked for an anomoly - nothing at all.

2) I use every power tool known to mankind w/o ill effect. BTW: I violate the 6 inch rule all the time. These are all battery powered tools w/ heavily sparking brush/ commutator effects.

3) I use chainsaws (to cut trees, not chains) frequently w/o ill effect. Now - there's a caveat here. IF your PM has RR features, DON"T do it unless the RR is set ridiculously high to keep it from making your heart race.

4) I have (again inadvertently) lain across the top of a green transformer box in my front yard on my chest. The guts of the box have (I think) 13,000 V, AC & 240 V,AC present. No effect.

5) I've had exactly one interference incident since PM. It was about 2 weeks post op. For some cockamamie reason, I had to climb up into the rafters in my shop. As I passed between two ceiling joists, I almost passed out & fell off the ladder. I got down immediately, scared badly. What had happened was that the 240 V, 30 Amp cable feeding my water heater was conducting at that time. My PM passed but a very few inches from the cable. That put it into test mode temporarily. But, as they said in the letter - everythoing went back to normal as soon as I was away from it.

6) Take normal safety precautions you used to take - w/ one addition - DON'T work alone! Just in case!

7) We are all different in how sensitive we are to these things. There are people who cannot walk into Costco w/o their PM having fits in the TV dept. Some people have a cow passing between the yellow anti-theft poles in Home Depot. Neither of those affect me one iota.

8) You will have to learn for yourself how sensitive you & your PM are.

9) I assure you that the technical numbers on P 4 are meaningless to you - but they are very conservative - BIG safety factors are built into them.

Separately I'll send you my take on practical limitations for PM hosts.

Don

Don said it all

by ElectricFrank - 2012-05-23 02:05:56

I'm an electronic engineer and handyman. I work around all sorts of stuff. It's been a long time since I felt a good jolt, but don't particularly worry about it.

One thing I would suggest though is to try to avoid situations where you might get across 120/240V wiring. This has nothing to do with the pacer. Back in the days when I used to regularly feel the Wrath of Westinghouse, it was in older houses with 15A fused circuits. If I was jolted and jumped I might short the hot to neutral and blow a fuse. They let go so fast that only a small spark happened. With the same circuit today only a 15A circuit breaker they are much slower responding. I thing I saw somewhere that a sudden dead short on a 20A outlet circuit could result in a surge of 50-100A. That's enough to blow hot copper in an eye.

By the way, Don got it wrong. I'm in Calif now. While in Arizona I had to put up with summer lightning storms. Even there with the power of lightning there's no concern about the pacemaker. Dead bodies don't care. LOL

best,

frank

I stand corrected on where Frank lives

by donr - 2012-05-23 07:05:26 Edit

CA - AZ - in that part of the US of A, it makes no difference to the flora & fauna. I've been to both places, I've learned & affirm the facts about the F & F being identical! I opened a broom closet door in the CA location & was eyeball to multi-eyeball w/ the biggest Black Widow spider I've ever seen. It had an abdomen the size of a basketball & was sucking the life out of a Maine Coon housecat. It told me to please shut the door - it liked privacy while it ate.

The only thing between the two locations is a state line drawn on a map & we all know that there isn't even a line painted on the road to mark that!

Don

Desert Differences

by donr - 2012-05-24 01:05:07 Edit

Frank, I must be colorblind - they both looked the same to me! Yes, they were dry. I woke up in the morning & someone else thought I had fallen out of a box of prunes. They had to re-hydrate me before I could talk.

Don

Needs more correction

by ElectricFrank - 2012-05-24 01:05:14

Don,
I can be scary to encounter one of smaller specimens of the Blake Widow like you did. The fully grown ones are more easily noticed.

The Colorado River is the the dividing line between the Calif and Ariz deserts. There is a definite change in foliage on either side. Arizona is a "green" desert with the giant Saguaro Cactus. Summer humidity is much higher in July-Sept due to the Monsoon rains. Calif is a "brown": desert with Sage and sand the order of the day. Calif rarely gets the monsoons. Swamp Coolers are pretty much useless in AZ, but work great in the Calif desert. Of course for a Georgia boy either one seems dry.

And of course the Calif desert is noted for it's Electric Frank creatures.

frank

Now you are on to me

by ElectricFrank - 2012-05-25 03:05:26

My favorite place to camp is about 4 miles off the main road on a rough old trail in the middle of the barren brown desert. At night it's dead quiet. Even a jack rabbit walking around outside the trailer sounds like a monster.

My favorite times are spring and fall when the daytime temperature is in the mid 80-90's. Night time is around 70. And yes I use more water for drinking than I do for showering. I usually spend about 4 days alone just enjoying it.

frank

other shoulder

by dwelch - 2019-11-19 22:19:56

I think the idea is not that you cant use a rifle at all, its that you dont want to use it on the pacer side.  

Rate response available and on changes what you can do, longer list of donts or more of a wont like rather than a cant.

Two different issues with "magnets" one is a magnet that causes the device to go into battery test mode, doesnt turn off the pacer just fixes the rate to reflect your battery life, 87 might mean 3.0 volts and 82 might me 2.3, the doc has a chart for each device/brand.  Generally gotta be on device like three or four like some of us to even know why this mode is there.  Not gonna hurt you/kill you.  This is a static magnetic field.

Then there electromagnetic fields, changing caused by AC power, this is the hug the transformer thing not just lay on the green box in the yard, climb the pole and hug the round one there, but even with that one the box creates a lot of sheilding, its closer to the climb the antenna if you can figure out how to get on it because if you didnt know it will probably electrocute you as you reach up from the ground to climb on, you kinda need to fly a parachute or hot air balloon into the tower, then find a transmittor and hug that.  Now the problem with all of this is the frequency is wrong so it will simply kill or fry you independent of the device.  You need power grid power, hug the right transformer or generator, THEN you might confuse the pacer, it might stop working right and depending on you you might pass out or not notice a thing, if you pass out by falling you are probably out of the field the pacer starts working again and you are fine.  I have been near hydroelectric power genrators, had a college field trip through a sub station, no effect.  Worked near a shake table, no effect   I cant see how the brakes at a roller coaster could possibly be that strong thats not how they work you cause the field to kinda fold back on itself the field drives the coils drives the field drives the coils.  Electric braking is cool.

Both field types decay exponentially, one over the radius times some constants.  so 2 feet a way is 1/4th of the strength as 1 foot.  4 feet is 1/16th and so on which is why even for a transformer moving a lot of current you need to get the device within inches.

Physical impacts, (shooting a rifle against the device, football, hockey,(yes even basketball and soccer), etc).  the fear is not the device although it is technically possible to take a well placed hit from the corner of a hard object and break a lead, but you will probably break yourself too.  Where I am heading is you are protecting the pacer, you are the shock absorber, but if it tears the skin because its a rock and a hard place thing now you have a big issue, get to the E.R right away, dont mess around.  Infections in general are something to worry about, dont mess around, get them taken care of right away, clean all wounds small or large, take them serously.  Doesnt mean you cant do stuff just clean up after.

I had no problem using brick phones on that side, never hesitate to put my smart phone in the pocket near the device.

I agree, dont trust a doc that tells you to avoid microwaves.

I have not been afraid of metal detectors for decades, wont hurt you, neither magnetic or electromagnetic, just move on through.  The problem with them is they may detect your metal and then you have to have a conversation and the TSA doesnt like people messing around, they have no sense of humor.  So airport is one thing, the pro football stadium is another, those places are usually not setup for us, no room to get around the detector, etc.  Although there still isnt enough known about the other machines, the hold your hands aboe your head while your pants fall down because they told you to take your belt off machines.  no fear.

MRI machines, not a straight answer.  I have 32 year old leads that predate the use of these machines.  There are differences between the early machines and the new machines as well as older pacers/leads and current pacers leads.  I have no answer there, i have no desire to go in and I would need the two docs standing next to me in a room together and both of them tell me its fine if not insist before I would go, but there are many folks here with newer devices in current mri machines that have had zero problems.  

been trough cat/pet whatever it is, xray, no problem.  flouroscan? also an xray, no problem, tech did say "do you know you have wires inside?"  the descaler at the dentist, fine.  my docs office told them not to rest the thing over the device, so my dental tech didnt.  on that topic you do NOT need to premedicate, a dentist who asks needs to talk to Tracey_E.  If you are afraid of medical xrays btw look up xkcd.  your brick house, or the earth below your feet radiates you countless times more than all the medical xrays you will receive in a year.  folks in brick houses worse than folks not in brick houses.  we are being constantly irradiated, move on, stop worrying about it.

static zaps not a problem.  120 hand to hand, that will kill anyone if they are lucky, do the one hand in the pocket thing in our case the pacer side hand in the pocket then it is hand to foot not hand to hand not necessariy crossing the heart nor finding the extra special conducting wires inside that make that job easier (although the leads are shielded across the whole path so it would have to find a way through the shielding).  Having a pacer wont make you special with respect to electrocution. 

Honestly you are more likely to get hurt as in bruised or that really hurt but not life threatening or go to the doc hurt, carrying a cardboard box, those corners line up right with the pacer.  Hugging folks whose heads are at pacer height.  Bumping shoulders with someone passing in a crowded hallway, and the number one that damn seatbelt.

I have also taken a couple of very hard direct hits, no problem.

Professionally welding is probably a problem even if you think you are fine the company should be concerned about their insurance with you.  Power line person or the power business in general if you are near generators, substations, transformers, etc.  They are likely not to allow you to remain employed in those areas, maybe a nice safe desk job or it is time to move on.  If you have an ICD which is more than a pacer, then driving jobs go away, truck driver, cab driver, etc.  Depending on where you live not just your CDL goes away but your drivers license in general. 

Know what your devices limits are, take your pulse for a full minute, no cheating, if it is fixed and you are out of breath it may be in safety mode at the end of battery life or it may be broken or confused.  If it is above or below your limit then it may be broken, call your doc.  I prefer in this case the real doc not the E.R because they are going to jack with it and then you have to go to your real doc to undo what the E.R did.  Or they might change it out with a device not suited to you because the didnt take the time to know/care where your regular doc is the one you want choosing devices.  If you have rate response available and enabled then I read a lot of comments about that, lots of things vibrate and can cause those things to jack with your rate.  Not sure why someone would want rate responce, I have no desire, but at the same time my condition is not a rate thing it is a block thing so the device doesnt control rate other than limits it simply fixes the timing of the ventricles.  

As written above, its not the size of the magnet, refridgerator magnets get weaker every year, saving a buck.  But those products you buy with packaging with a magnet in it, some flap you open it theres the computer mouse or whatever.  those are some pretty strong but very small magnets.  Having done the phone magnet test more times than I can count, its not easy to get that big magnet positioned right to put the pacer in battery mode, so one of those little ones would take some work.  It is easy to buy some serious magnets for like 10 bucks on amazon, fine for removing security tags that somehow made it out of the store and actually sticking things to a fridge, but keep those away from the device you dont want to cause the device to stick in magnet mode. 

enough for now.

Oh, doesnt hurt us but some heart montors just dont work on us, watches, fitness trackers.  oh well, nothing beats your fingers on the rist or neck and a stopwatch/watch/timer/clock.  full minute no cheating the pacer works on an average.

 

 

Electronic scales

by Sandraphm - 2019-11-19 22:36:20

Hi, I'm new here and really appreciate hearing everyone's advice.  One thing I was told to avoid was electronic scales that measure your BMI as well as your weight.

You know you're wired when...

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