Multiple electronics in close proximity

New member here who just found the club.  I received my first pacemaker almost 25 years ago at the age of 15, am non-dependent, have done great ever since, and had my 4th device impanted last May.  Recently though, I have had a wierd, random problem I am hoping someone here may have knowledge on.  

I teach University-level classes and taught remotely during for the past year during COVID, until about a month ago.  During the COVID pandemic universities "teched up" in their classrooms, which now house a number of broadcasting electronics (pre-amp, antennas, mic array), alongside all of the normal electronics (computer, overhead, etc).  Classrooms are now quasi-recording studios, with seating.  Also, all of the tech, except the projector & TV's, are housed in the lecturer's podium.

Each time I stand behind the podium and lecture I begin to feel dizzy, lightheaded, and yesterday I almost hit the floor.  The non-cardiologist doc says I am fine, physicially.  Unfortunately, my cardiologist has a 2-month wait to get his assessment.

Does anyone know if the electronics in the podium, about 18"-2' away from me, could be producing enough EMI to affect my unit?  I know the unit is shielded from most EMI, but perhaps some of the new tech or the combination of all of the tech produces enough EMI to make my unit act up?



Probably not

by crustyg - 2021-03-13 12:48:51

It takes a lot of EMI to interfere with a PM: probably the commonest issue is pick up of signals by one or both leads, which the PM sees as electrical activations that either cause the PM to reduce pacing, or activates a protection mechanism in the PM, perhaps changing pacing mode.

But you say you are not PM dependent, so in the unlikely event that your PM is reducing pacing due to the electronics near you this *shouldn't* produce a lot of problems.

Assuming you're confident about checking your peripheral pulse at the wrist, I would advise taking a 15s pulse count when you feel odd as you stand near the electronics.  This will provide a lot of useful information to help you (and perhaps us and your EP-doc) to work out what might be going on.


by covinth - 2021-03-13 13:01:34

Thanks for the input crustyg.  My Apple watch showed my pulse was racing around 130 bpm during the event.  It is not a perfect measure, but good enough to let me know my heart was racing.  Also, the doc already turned off the pacing mode sensor since the unit kept putting me in sport mode while I slept.

I ordered an EM meter and will know for sure in a day or two.

There was a reason for suggesting manual pulse check

by crustyg - 2021-03-13 18:07:52

Even in hospital one of the most important measurements is taking a patient's pulse by feeling it.  It tells a lot about the heart - is each beat the same intensity, are they completely regular, if not, are they regularly irregular or irregularly irregular - none of which you get from a device, no matter how expensive/modern/advanced.  You can even be dying and have a normal ECG, but the manual pulse gives the clue about the cause (EMD - typically tamponade).

So, to be blunt, forget the tech, and next time this happens actually feel for your pulse, count the beats, note their intensity, their character and record the rate.  And wrist because feeling your pulse in the neck risks carotid massage which can produce other effects and it's not socially acceptable to feel a femoral pulse in public!

Best wishes.


by AgentX86 - 2021-03-13 21:25:58

It's extremely unlikely that the equipment that you've been around has anything to do with your symptoms.  The distance, alone, tells me that EMI isn't the problem.  As you note, yourself, that modern pacemakers are well "shielded" from EMI.  Magnetic fields can still cause problems but RF EMI won't be the problem.  Unless you're forking over many thousands of dollars (for EMI spectrum analyzer and antennas) an "EMI meter" is a waste of time and money.  If by some chance your PM was affected, an interrogation should show it.

BTW, how is Auburn?  We lived in Opelika for a few years about ten years ago. I worked at a small company that made EMI.  ;-)  Is Ma Fia's Italian restaurant still there?


by dwelch - 2021-03-17 23:06:53

the energy goes like the surface of a sphere, remember your math?  one over the radius squared basically so 2 inches away is one quarter the energy of 1 inch away. 18 inches away is 1/324th the energy at 1 inch away from the source.  Even a transformer you need to get closer than that to.  So no, cant see how this is related.  Perhaps it is stage fright, or anxiety based on the fear you might be affected by the energy...



Speakers and magnetic fields

by Northerners - 2021-03-23 13:47:49

I am also new to the group. To follow up on AgentX above, many speakers have magnets in them as well as headphones and the like. I suggest taking a moment to itemize all the equipment being used in the setup and a quick search of each. I am a new recipient of a Medtronic two wirePM  to deal with bifascicular branch block and it concerns me to hear you say you almost hit the floor. My device is specific about proximity to magnets. I wish I could be of more help but not qualified to advise further. The passing out part (syncope) is no fun. Let us know what the EM meter shows you.

Multi electronics, glose proximity

by Oldwolf - 2021-04-13 00:29:21

Even if you are 2ft away fm airport security checkers, it can be a problem. Also, the Boston Science Manua for my device  lists diff types of issues growing out of EMI problems damage of device, the device's programming, & interference. 6" is good distance for a cell phone, & it 'only' interferes w/the device working properly when it is too close; but will go back to proper functionality once distance fm cellphone is increased.


The issues are varied & sometimes complex (distance, intensity, type of interference, item itself vs. charger, or headphone is OK, it's wires not; so read the manual & if you don't have it, download it.

You know you're wired when...

Your pacemaker receives radio frequencies.

Member Quotes

Pacemakers are very reliable devices.