auto mechanic and pacemaker

Hi everyone, i've been doing some reading up on pacemakers, as my father is having one put in this coming monday. He is an auto mechanic and owns his garage. The doctors have told him he will not be able to work anymore, however that is not in the cards for him and he does not want to do so. 

The pacemaker is being installed because his heart beats way to fast. he has had the maze procedure as well as the ablation procedure. they say he is in afib 24/7 now, and this is his last resort or the doctors have said his heart will more or less blow apart. 

My question for you guys is, is anyone a mechanic and have you continued to do your job after have a pacemaker put in? Is there any sort of safety vest jacket that may make it a bit safer for him if he decides he has to go back to work? any information anyone can provide or those who have had this done and have worked in this field would be greatly appreciated. 

Thank you!


Running equipment

by Theknotguy - 2020-03-25 12:35:59

There is a lot of CYA out there and it's really hard to determine which is real and which is just nonsense that is repeated over and over.  I tend to fall on the ain't-no-problem side and will sometimes go out and test the theories.  Question is if your dad has and ICD and will get the Jesus shock or if he has a pacemaker?  There are differences as has been painfully pointed out to me in the past.  So my comments will be aimed towards pacemakers because that is what I have.  If your dad has an ICD you'll have to do some more research because what I say may not be necessarily true for the ICD side.  

Just had a conversation with a therapy person at the hospital.  She was saying people with a pacemaker had a lifetime lifting limit of 45 pounds on the pacemaker side.  I literally went down three floors in the hospital and talked with the security guard who has a pacemaker and he was telling me he broke a lead after repeatedly lifting 300 pounds.  In fact he kinda expected it.  However, up to 300 pounds he was getting along fine doing repeated weight lifts. So, in my humble opinion the 45 pound weight limit may have a good reason but it isn't as hard and fast as some people would like you to think.  It also falls in line with what I've found out working at a charity wood shop.  We move 2000 pounds of wood on the cut crew every Thursday morning and I'm right in the middle of it moving wood up to 55 pounds at a pop.  No problems and I've been doing it for six years.  My pacemaker has checked out OK during that time and I just had to have it adjusted because it wasn't keeping up with my exercise.  

Some other items.  MIG and TIG welding seem to be OK.  Jury is still out on ARC welding although we have had some members on the forum say they were able to do it with no problems.  I don't weld, so I don't know.  No further comment from me on that issue.

What I have done is as follows:  Jump started a car and was leaning over the running engine.  Grabbed a live 110 volt line.  Drilled about 100 holes using a large 110 volt power drill with my pacemaker lying on the running drill.  Walk through the security portals that check for guns several times a day.  Have been wanded in, of all places, London, UK.  Run all the equipment in the wood shop - saws, routers, sanders, and power drills.  Run a chain saw to cut down and cut up a 30 foot tree.  And walked past a rare earth magnet within a foot of the magnet- this is the kind you have to use a pry bar to pull apart.  All of the things above with no problems.  And, as I said before, I've been doing it for six years now.  

What I won't do:  Place one of those rare earth magnets over my pacemaker.  Even I'm not that stupid.  

What gave me the most problems:  Running a Saws-all reciprocating saw.  Riding in an empty 24 foot (or bigger) truck.  Riding in selected seats on a diesel  passenger bus.  These three items start jiggling things around and the accelerometer in my pacemaker thinks I'm running and it kicks up my heart rate.  I usually put my hand over my pacemaker - looks like I'm giving someone a Roman Legion salute - and the problem usually goes away.  Although I did look funny the first time it happened.  One of the guys in the shop came over and asked me if I was OK.  "You had the strangest look on your face!", he said.  

What you have to be careful about:  Along with the pacemaker sometimes there are new drugs added.  They slow down your reaction time and while you feel OK, you aren't responding like you used to.  I was running the table top router and almost got a permanent manicure.  Was running the table saw and my glove got grabbed and pulled into the saw.  So when operating power equipment post pacemaker and with drugs you have to be extra careful.  You really have to plan what you're going to do and think things through.  Those new carbide blades are not forgiving of your inattention.  Consequently I let the younger guys do the production cutting.  

As for safety vests and the like...  I've seen advertisements for them but never any scientific research that backs up their claims.  Since I haven't had any problems I really haven't investigated and don't feel they would be of any use.  

Another thing you want to tell your dad is that he can't work alone in the shop.  At least for the first year.  He can get hurt very badly and not having anyone to help can lead to tragic results.  Now would be a good time for him to bring in the new guys and start teaching.  They do the muscle work and he uses the brain.  That's why they keep us old, white haired guys around, sometimes we know something other people and books don't.  And, you tell your dad that if he does decide to go back to the shop, at first he works until something hurts, then quits.  There is a lot of adjustment the body has to do post pacemaker implant and he won't have the stamina as before.  Eventually some of the stamina will come back but he'll really need to pace himself.  Of course, he'll probably be like me, push it, then wonder why he can't get out of bed for two days.  Some of us never learn.  

I got the pacemaker, was recovering, and was rattling around the house.  One day the wife said, "You're twice the husband, twice the mess, one half the fun. You're driving me nuts!  Get out of the house!  Why don't you go down to the wood shop and make yourself useful??"  Just because you got a pacemaker doesn't mean you have to give up your life.  On days we work at the wood shop, when us white haired guys start talking, it sounds like we've all escaped from the hospital.  A few of us have since died but at least we died doing what we wanted to do and weren't sitting around the house complaining about how bad things were.  

I hope your dad has a successful transition to the pacemaker.  

Car Batteries

by doublehorn48 - 2020-03-25 14:28:24

I've always heard that car batteries are to be avoided.  That said , I have had my chest close to a car battery when the car was running several times.  I routinely lift 65+ lbs. over my head when I work.  At 71 I've given up ever bench pressing 400 lbs.  My first pm was implanted in 1987.  There' s been no physical activity that I have wanted to do that I have avoided.  I'm not the only person that's had a pm for years that is extremely active.

I would get a second opinion on workiing on cars.

Best wishes,

m. scott

A must to avoid

by AgentX86 - 2020-03-25 23:20:02

It's not clear from your question exactly what your father is having done.  A pacemaker can't slow the heart or fix tachycardia in any way.  The ablation and maze procedure make sense for atrial tach but that's rarely dangerous and usually easy to mitigate with drugs.  However, the pacemaker makes no sense at all.  A pacemaker cannot stop tachycardia. As we often say here, a pacemaker is an accelerator.  It's not a brake.  Is it possible that he's also having an AV node ablation?  If so, he'll be what's called "pacemaker dependent", which means his heart won't beat without the pacemaker, or at least won't be fast enough to maintain consiousness. This matters to answer your question, so you need to find out. 

If he will be pacemaker dependent, he has to be a lot more careful with what he does.  Most pacemakers aren't "active" all the time.  The patient's heart will beat on its own but perhaps too slowly to have a normal life.  There are a lot of variations but the bottom line is that this group of people can survive it if the pacemaker doesn't operate properly.  These people can feel somethign's wrong and can get away from the problem.  Those who are pacemaker dependent may not be able to escape.  This is a big difference.

Again, those who are pacemaker dependent really need to watch high AC magnetic fields.  DC magnetic fields, like the rare-earth magnet mentioned above aren't the problem.  The problem is AC magnetic fields like arc welders (sorry I don't know enough about the variatoins but some are OK, some aren't) with currents above 140A, large motors, and power stations.

BAck to your question.  The issue with a car is its alternator.  It can put out a pretty substantial AC magnetic field.  If your father gets too close (and he is pacemaker dependent) it could trick his pacemaker into inhibiting the pacing signal. Pacemakers sense a hearbeat and inhibit themselves if a beat is detected before it starts the beat.  If there is a large magnetic field the current it induces into the leads can trick the PM into thinking that there has been a heartbeat.  It then inhibits the next beat.  If this continues someone who is pacemaker dependent will not be able to escape. Since this is caused by a magnetic field and not an electric field, shielding it is next to impossible.  Ony iron or steel will shield magnetic fields and it would take so much iron that one couldn't lift it.

The above is based on my assumption that your father will be pacemaker dependent, for some reason.  The best guess is that he's going to have an AV ablation to fix the tachycardia, then will need a pacemaker for the heart to beat at all.  That's where I am.  My EP will not let me use my lawn tractor becuase the alternators are notoriously crappy and it's right under the seat.  Yard tools like weed wackers are fine because they don't have alternators.  Cars, of course do so your father will have to look at this very closely.  It may matter a lot.

So i researched his records from past year

by Hj5487 - 2020-03-26 09:41:13

Okay, so having gotten access to his records this is what I can relay. His surgery was cancelled for this coming week and rescheduled for end of April.

He has Supraventricular tachycardia. He had a hole in his heart (atrial septal defect) 15 years ago about the size of a half dollar, which was what had started this whole process. They did the maze procedure and went in and stitched it. He was having rapid heart beats and was exhausted all the time. The hospital caring for him had suggested to regulate the heart beats to Shut his heart off and turn it on 7 separate times. Convinced him to get a second opinion when this still was not helping the problem.7/5/19 went in for second opinion with new doctor (best in the capital district). Concluded he has Persistent Atrial fibrillation, aortic root dilatation, chronic obstructive lung disease, pulmonary hypertension, Supraventricular tachycardia. 9/16/19, did atrial fibrillation ablation surgery. Felt better for a week, and then back to how it was before. 3/17/20 diagnoses were atypical atrial flutter (did electrocardiogram), Dyspnea on exertion (did echocardiogram, transthoracic, complete, w/ color flow) &Atrial septal defect. Hes on a slew of medications including:

atorvastatin 20 mg tablet- Take 1 tablet every day by oral route.                     

lisinopril 10 mg tablet-1/2 tablet oral daily                         

metoprolol tartrate 25 mg tablet                               

sotalol 120 mg tablet- Take 1 tablet twice a day by oral route.                  

Spiriva Respimat 1.25 mcg/actuation solution for inhalation- Inhale 2 puffs every day by inhalation route.                                         

Xarelto 20 mg tablet-Take 1 tablet every day by oral route.

He is having an av node ablation done as well as the pacemaker. I hope this helps. I appreciate all of the responses you guys have given me they have been super helpful. I just want him to be as safe as possible. I know there is no stopping him from doing what he does, but if there is at least some things he can do, it will be better than nothing at all. Hes been a hard worker his whole life,


by Bionic Beat - 2020-03-26 13:09:50

Chronic AFib can cause strokes.  If he has a stroke, doubt he'll be working at all.

He needs to get something installed to keep his heart going, then worry about the work situation.

Its a raw deal but we all have to make adjustments when health fails.

Hope he's on some anti arrythmic meds for the AFib as well.


All the best.


Bionic Beat

ask the doc(s)

by dwelch - 2020-03-27 12:57:59

I am also on the side of most of the warnings even from the doc are CYA or legal insurance.  I also wont put one of those rare earth magnets near my device although I do have some of those magnets...I still have at least one phone box with the big magnet in it.  have not had a phone test in years.

Batteries are not a problem, the alternator can be, if you are that close to it while the engine is running you are more likely to get a hand or clothes caught in a moving part and get hurt that way.  But touching live circuits might confuse things briefly.

it sounds like though and I dont know all the terms mentioned here that his issues may not be that simple and the risk might not just be legal insurance.  if an icd then maybe he can no longer drive at all which could still be worked around in a shop with other people who can, but maybe there are other risks that can make it unsafe for him or others.

ask the doctor why as we cant tell what the doctor was thinking when the statement was made.  then from that maybe we have a CYA or not opinion on that.




So i researched

by AgentX86 - 2020-03-27 17:49:06

Gee, most of that all sounds familliar except your dad has a lot of other problems.  Like him, I had Afib for years, though a cardioversion put an end to it for several years, then it came back.  It was lucky it did, really, because they found four blockates, two 100% an 90% and a 70%.  I had a CABG and they did a Maze (and LAA clip) at the same time.  The Maze failed the same way your dads did.  It put me in permanent atypical flutter. 

They tried all sorts of drugs, then three failed ablations for the atypical flutter.  Amoderone was one of them, which damaged my thyroid (fortunately not permanently).  Sotalol was anotherbut that got my SI node so it was pacemaker time.  I chose to have the AV ablation as well, so at least I wouldn't fee the flutter.  Note that a pacemaker doesn't fix Afib or Aflutter, just makes it so it's not felt.  It's still there causing all the other problems AF/AFL cause. Even with the clipped LAA, I'll be on anticoagulants for life.  Your father will be too.

And yes, your father will be pacemaker dependent so will have to be a lot more conservative with what he does than the majority of pacemaker patients.  Most don't have to worry much about "over sensing" as I described in an earlier post.  He will.  Whether he can continue as a mechanic is between your father and his EP.  Don't blow off his EP because someone here said it was a good idea.  Pacemaker dependency is serious stuff. It is better to be safe than sorry because there may be no second chance.


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As for my pacemaker (almost 7 years old) I like to think of it in the terms of the old Timex commercial - takes a licking and keeps on ticking.