What does it do to your heart?

I have read several postings about security devices at doorways, and the wand they also use. If you get a zap when undergoing the search -- what does the zap do to your heart? Could it cause damage? Is the possible damage cumulative over time after years of this zap? Just curious. Bionic Barb


Security Devices

by SMITTY - 2007-05-31 11:05:59

Hi Barb,

The devices they use are actually metal detectors. These may emit very low power and low frequency radio waves that are not likely to ever harm to a pacemaker. As for damage to the heart this does not happen as it exposes the person to the same danger they have if they use the walk through units. So there is nothing to zap the heart or pacemaker and no cumulative effect can exist.

The units in a Wal-Mart or some other department other store may be a little different from the airport units. These are actually looking for small devices that send out a very low power radio signal. The little devices sending out the signal are supposed to be removed or deactivated when you go through the check out stands, but as we all know, that doesn’t always happen. Anyway, these security devices are signal receivers and are not sending out anything.

One last word, in the event one of these devices for some unknown reason was to affect your pacemakers as you pass through it would just be for an instant and may cause your heart to skip a beat, or have an extra beat.

This subject has been mentioned several a times lately and below is a short article I came across on the subject. It may help put someone’s mind at rest about going through security. I know I will hereafter go through the walk through units and if I trip the alarm I will just show my PM card.


Airport security and Pacemakers

The metal in your pacemaker can trigger the alarm in some airport security systems, although this only happens rarely. If you have concerns about passing through airport security systems, you may like to discuss this with your pacemaker clinic before you travel. It is always best to carry your Data Card and explain you have a pacemaker fitted. If you show your card, you can bypass the system and security staff may carry out a manual body search. In some airports, staff may use a handheld scanner to do a manual search. The scanner may come close to your pacemaker but there are rarely problems with this. Generally, if you walk straight through the frame without lingering, there should be no effect on your pacemaker.

Zellers and Libraries

by tex127 - 2007-06-05 09:06:58

In my experience in Canada the two worst culprits for anti theft devices that affected pacemakers were Zellers and Public Libraries. This is because their gates are set very wide apart and are very close to the check out, where people tend to spend a lot of time.

The key is not to linger at the gates, don't lean up against them - especially if you are already feeling dizzy or unwell!

For most people, Smitty is correct, you will just get a missed beat or extra beat. Years ago, Vitatron had issues with pacemakers that had an extremely sensitive sensor in them. They are quite old and most of them have been removed by now, but they can actually be "reset" - they go into a safety backup mode. This is not unsafe, but some people can feel unwell with the backup mode since it reverts to single chamber pacing.

You know you're wired when...

You trust technology more than your heart.

Member Quotes

I finished 29th in London in 2 hours 20 minutes 30 seconds which is my fastest with or without a device so clearly it didn’t slow me down ! I had no problems apart from some slight chaffing on my scar - more Vaseline next time.