Info on dangers

I've seen lots of questions on what devices are okay and not lately, I've done a project for school on pacemakers before and saw this sight so I went back to it and got the information.

This information was copied from:

Devices that may put your pacemaker at risk
If you have an artificial pacemaker, be aware of your surroundings and the devices that may interfere with pulse generators. This list will help you understand what type of devices may affect the performance of your pacemaker. Make sure that you always have identification with you that shows others that you have a pacemaker. And always tell your doctor or dentist before they administer any testing that uses medical or electronic devices.

Devices with little or no risk

Home appliances — CB radios, electric drills, electric blankets, electric shavers, ham radios, heating pads, metal detectors, microwave ovens, TV transmitters and remote control TV changers, in general, have not been shown to damage pacemaker pulse generators, change pacing rates or totally inhibit pacemaker output. Several of these devices have a remote potential to cause interference by occasionally inhibiting a single beat. However, most people can continue to use these household devices without significant worry about damage or interference with their pacemakers.

Dental equipment — This doesn't appear to negatively affect pacemakers. Some patients may feel an increase in pacing rates during dental drilling.

Diagnostic radiation (such as screening X-ray) — This seems to have no effect on pacemaker pulse generators.

Electroconvulsive therapy (such as for certain mental disorders) — This appears to be safely used in patients with pacemakers.

Devices with risk

Anti-theft systems, also called electronic article surveillance (EAS) and metal detectors —Interactions with EAS systems and metal detectors are unlikely to cause clinically significant symptoms in most patients. However, the American Heart Association recommends that you:

Be aware that EAS systems may be hidden/camouflaged in entrances and exits in many commercial establishments.
Don't stay near the EAS system or metal detector longer than is necessary and don't lean against the system.
If scanning with a hand-held metal detector is necessary, warn the security personnel that you have an electronic medical device and ask them not to hold the metal detector near the device any longer than is absolutely necessary. You could also ask for an alternative form of personal search.
Cellular telephones — Cellphones available in the United States (less than 3 watts) don't appear to damage pulse generators or affect how the pacemaker works. But technology is rapidly changing as the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is making new frequencies available. Newer cellphones using these new frequencies might make pacemakers less reliable. A group of cellphone companies is studying that possibility.

Extracorporeal shock-wave lithotripsy (ESWL) — This is a noninvasive treatment that uses hydraulic shocks to dissolve kidney stones. This procedure may be done safely in most pacemaker patients, with some reprogramming of the pacing. You'll need careful follow-up after the procedure and for several months to be sure your pacemaker is working properly. ESWL should be avoided in patients with certain kinds of pacemakers implanted in the abdomen. Discuss your specific case with your doctor before and after the treatment.

Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) — This is a noninvasive diagnostic tool that uses a powerful magnet to produce images of internal organs and functions. Metal objects are attracted to the magnet and are normally not allowed near MRI machines. The magnet can interrupt the pacing and inhibit the output of pacemakers. If MRI must be done, the pacemaker output in some models can be reprogrammed. Discuss with your doctor the possible risks and benefits before you undergo MRI scanning.

Medical equipment — Carry a wallet ID card with you. Equipment used by doctors and dentists can affect your pacemaker, so tell them you have one.

Power-generating equipment, arc welding equipment and powerful magnets (as in medical devices, heavy equipment or motors) — These can inhibit pulse generators. Patients who work closely with or near such equipment should be aware of the risk that their pacemakers may not work properly in those conditions.

Radiofrequency ablation — This uses radio waves to manage a wide variety of arrhythmias. Recent studies of patients with implanted pacing systems measured the units before, during and after radiofrequency ablation. They showed that most permanent pacemakers aren't adversely affected by radio frequencies during catheter ablation. A variety of changes in your pacemaker can occur during and after the treatment. Your doctor should carefully evaluate your pacing system after the procedure.

Short-wave or microwave diathermy — This uses high-frequency, high-intensity signals. These may bypass your pacemaker's noise protection and interfere with or permanently damage the pulse generator.

Therapeutic radiation (such as for treating cancerous tumors) — This may damage the pacemaker's circuits. The degree of damage is unpredictable and may vary with different systems. But the risk is significant and builds up as the radiation dose increases. The American Heart Association recommends that the pacemaker be shielded as much as possible and moved if it lies directly in the radiation field. If you depend on your pacemaker for normal heart pacing, the electrocardiogram (ECG) should be monitored during the treatment, and your pulse generator should be tested often after and between radiation sessions.

Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) — This is used to relieve acute or chronic pain. Several electrodes are placed on the skin and connected to a pulse generator. Most studies have shown that TENS rarely inhibits bipolar pacing. It may sometimes briefly inhibit unipolar pacing. This can be treated by reprogramming the pulse generator



by cottontop - 2007-09-03 02:09:00

That was very kind of you to do. Do you have a PM or know someone who does? Again, thank you for all the information.

God bless you,

Thank You!

by auntiesamm - 2007-09-03 10:09:40

This is an excellent article; I hope everyone will read it because it is important information and many of the same questions that are asked particularly by one who is a newbie to PMs. It was thoughtful of you to post it on this board where a large number of folks will see it. Your kindness is appreciated.



by auntiesamm - 2007-09-03 10:09:56

Hi Marisab,

What grade are you in school? Did you do this project for a science class? Just curious as to how and why you chose this particular topic. I hope you got a good grade!


responses 2 responses

by marisab - 2007-09-04 04:09:56

it was a middle school project,yes public school, it was called a personal project and you pick any topic and research it. I chose pacemakers. And I got an A. So hope you all like the info.


by thomast - 2007-09-04 12:09:16

My Medtronic book says not to use a TENS unit


by thomast - 2007-09-04 12:09:43

My book from Medtronic says not to use a TENS unit.

TENS units

by auntiesamm - 2007-09-06 12:09:52

I had a knee replacement in June and a physical therapist was going to use electrical stimulation to try to break up some scar tissue. She then remembered my PM and said it could not be used. The label on the ES unit specifically stated no pacemakers! Instead she used a laser on the scar tissue which was extremely effective. Absolutely no TENS - which is electrical stimulation - or anything similar.


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