Electronics May Zap Your Pacemaker

How to minimize pacemaker problems around electronics

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(RxWiki News) Electric and magnetic fields (EMFs) from household appliances and electronic devices can interfere with pacemakers when used in close proximity to the body, a new study found.

And because pacemakers regulate patients' heartbeats, that could be a problem. But this study, published in the journal Circulation, also noted that there are ways to minimize that risk.

“Electromagnetic interferences with pacemakers in everyday life can occur, however, harmful interferences are rare using vendors' recommended (pacemaker) settings,” said study author Dr. Andreas Napp, a cardiologist at RWTH Aachen University Hospital in Germany, in a press release. “Dedicated device programming is an effective measure to reduce the individual risk of interference. For example, doctors can reprogram pacemakers to a lower sensitivity to reduce EMF susceptibility.”

Read on for more information on how to minimize EMF interference with your pacemaker.

Items That Contain Magnets

Never put a magnet near your pacemaker. A strong magnetic field can interfere with your device's ability to function properly.

Household Electronics

Lots of household items are safe to have around when you have a pacemaker. Encounters with your washer, dryer, fridge, toaster, blender, stove, microwave, computer, TV, radio, remote control and treadmill aren't likely to cause any problems.

But some items need to be kept at least a foot away from your pacemaker at all times. These include pagers, stereo speakers, plug-in and cordless power tools, and electric lawnmowers and leaf blowers.

Personal Electronics

Cellphones can potentially cause pacemaker problems. Never put your phone in your pocket on the same side of your body as your pacemaker. The same goes for which ear you hold your phone to — hold it to the ear on the opposite side of your body as your pacemaker.

Other Tips

  • Don't lean over a car motor while it's running.
  • Avoid large motors, generators and other equipment.
  • Stay away from massage chairs that use magnets.
  • Note that handheld security wands used at airport security checks may cause interference.
  • Avoid radio transmitters and high-voltage power lines.

If you're not sure how an object might affect your pacemaker, contact your health care provider.

Information on outside funding sources and potential conflicts of interest for the pacemaker study was not available at the time of publication.

Last Updated:
March 8, 2017