Interference with pacemaker/ICD

While I have had my pacemaker/ICD since June, was not until weeks ago that I am now totally dependant on my device.  This of course creates anxiety over its reliability and interferences. 

While I have always been seems now to be a priority as a failure on my device would be catastrophic.

I have read from my manufacturers website all the items that are safe or to use precautions......BUT, I am curious if you can share what items/procedures you have found to interfere with your device that you didn't think would. 




by AgentX86 - 2020-03-09 15:17:49

Like you, and a bunch of others here, I'm also dependent. I've never had any interference and don't have any interest in finding any (because we may not be able to retreat, it may be lethal). On the other hand, if you believe everything written by lawyers I doubt if you could stay in bed safely.

Goby what your EP says. Mine forbids riding lawn tractors and DC welding. He strongly warned against DC (I think) welding, as well. There was talk about power substations and elevator motors, as well but I wasn't much interested in such things. Do ask your EP and PM tech,  though.

live your life

by Tracey_E - 2020-03-09 16:44:44

Once upon a time I was cautious and afraid of things. But over the years, I'd ask my doc, NP, or SJM rep, and they always say go for it. I'd dip my toes, I'd feel fine. Next time, I'd be a little more brave. Now it's been over 25 years and little phases me. If there is something questionable, I have probably tried it. I didn't even know most of the things were questionable until I read it here, my doctors have always told me I won't hurt it.

Even if we do something questionable, it will not turn off. Let me repeat that, it will NOT turn OFF. The worst we can do is put it in test mode until we get away from the interference, feels like when they interrogate. If we are dependent, it won't feel good, but it's harmless and we can't damage the pacer. As soon as we get away from the interference, it goes back to normal function. 

Questionable things I've done (depending on who you ask, my doc knows about everything on this list. Ok, almost everything. he doesn't know about the bobsled lol) ... toured a power plant, including the generator room. I knew the generator room was pushing it but I was doing the tour with a doctor friend and we were curious. I figured worst case she could get me to safety.  I felt fine and I asked at my next check, nothing showed up on the report. Any time it switches mode, it shows up on the report. I read with my ipad on my chest. I used to have a magnetic case for it, took the case to an appointment once and we tried to get it to interfere with the pacer but could not. I run with my ipod/phone in a pocket right over my pacer, jump start cars, run a generator in a hurricane, ridden an Olympic bobsled and roller coasters. With jump starting cars and running the generator, I get in and get out, I don't linger. The bobsled the risk was more the g's it pulled, not magnets.

Newer pacers are extremely well shielded and little will affect them. ARC welding is out, other welding is ok. We aren't supposed to get on the electronic scales that calculate body fat (just weight is fine). I avoid roller coasters with magnetic brakes, tho I'm pretty sure I've been on a few that had them lol. If they are newer and have super fast start/stop, they are probably magnetic and not a good idea. If you're into FL theme parks that means Hulk at Universal, Manta at Seaworld, Rocking Roller Coaster and Slinky Dog at Disney. That's about it.  Think industrial magnets, most things in a home environment are perfectly safe.

btw, stay off roller coasters for the first year. Doctors are mixed on whether they're ok, and I totally trust my doc who says they are fine, but they are pushing it a bit so you want your leads grown in solid before trying it. 

Step away from that interference!

by Gotrhythm - 2020-03-09 18:05:17

Being "totally dependent" on a pacemaker sounds like you could accidentally brush up against the wrong thing, or somebody could plug in a waffle maker, and you would keel over dead.

Get that picture out of your head! 

In the wildly unlikely event that something does affect your pacemaker, you will feel it and you will remain consious. You will not fall down dead. All you have to do is step away. Six inches will probably do it. A foot or two for sure.

Being totally dependent doesn't change anything. For seven years I wasn't "pacemaker dependent" and now I am. There is simply no difference in how I must live. It feels exactly the same. I do the same things, go the same places.

Let your pacemaker/ICD be the thing that reduces the real risks of your heart condition and so should give you a new lease on life. Not make you live with a life that is more precarious than ever.


Not turn off - test mode - walk away

by AgentX86 - 2020-03-09 23:23:31

The above is not necessarily true.  The problem is NOT "test mode".  The problem is "over-sensing".  The PM can assume the interference is a heartbeat and inhibit.  This means there WILL NOT BE A HEARTBEAT during that period.  String a lot of these together and you're in real trouble and cannot retreat.  You will pass out.  Repeat, it has nothing to do with "test mode" and it is serious.



by Beca H - 2020-03-12 20:01:12

Hi there!

In my experience it's magnets that are the main problem as they can interfere with the settings of your pacemaker. For example, never walk through a security gate at the airport. Other than this and contact sport, I have never personally had a problem with interference.  I had my first pacemaker at the age of 7 and 20 years later I am just recovering from my 4th implant. I hope everyone's positive comments help you :) 

You know you're wired when...

“Batteries not included” takes on a new meaning.

Member Quotes

In life we have to consider what is more important, the loss of the vanity or the gain of the life.