Though there is not even remotest possibility that that your pacemaker may stop working properly because of electrical interference, but the person, living with pacemaker implanted, needs to take extra precautions. Though this article is not intended to substitute for any medical or expert advice, yet to create awareness among such patients, their caretakers, attendants and nears and dears, public, who are aware of the fact that the person is living with implanted pacemaker, need to know and follow the following special precautions so that they can spread the word of knowledge
Use of Mobile, Smart Phone Though it is not unsafe to talk on a cell phone, but the persons with implanted pacemaker needs to ensure that cell phone with turned on position is not placed directly over the pacemaker implantation site as the pacemaker could misinterpret the cell phone signal as heartbeat and with hold pacing, the basic function of the pacemaker, resulting into signs and symptoms of sudden fatigue.
Passing through security systems at airports of anywhere Though while passing through metal detectors at airports may not interfere with your pacemaker but the metal in it may sound the alarm. As such avoid do not lean against a metal detection device or system. Hospitals issue valid ID cards to the persons with implanted pacemaker, to be shown to security personnel. However if security personnel insist on using a handy metal detector, politely tell them not to place the device near the pacemaker for longer duration than necessary or the person living with pacemaker can request for alternative personal search without shirt.
Medical Care If any medical procedure, which involves exposure to electromagnetic field or energy, is to be undertaken by your doctor then tell the doctor that you have got pacemaker implant. Such procedures include magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), Radiation therapy for cancer, lithotripsy using shock waves to break up large kidney stones or gallstones. Even if the person with pacemaker implant is undergoing elctrocautery needle surgery to control bleeding the doctors needs to be informed as it can also interfere with pacemaker function.
Precautions against power plants or power generating equipment It is prudent to stay at least 1 meter away from welding machines, and high voltage transformers or motorized generator systems. However if such a professional himself or herself has pacemaker implant then the doctors can arrange tests in the workplace itself to find if it affects the pacemaker or not.
However microwave ovens, televisions and remotes of devices and electric shavers or drills are not known to interfere with the pacemaker.
Do I need to worry about battery life of Pacemaker Every pacemaker sends and receives information between you and your attending doctor's office, where the doctors have the access to the data including heart rate, rhythm, pacemaker's functioning, and above all the remaining battery life of the pacemaker. Doctors are likely to inform you and it is your duty also to keep in touch with your doctor.
Keep your pacemaker's manufacturer details, bar code and manual handy for emergent needs. It is better to keep two sets of details of pacemaker along with customer care toll free number of the manufacturer and the attending doctor's contact numbers being handy and the other in safe custody.
Follow the precautions if you are living with a pacemaker and tell others, who live in close vicinity of the person with pacemaker, to follow or to be followed.
Comment from the author to create awareness among readers:
As per latest development an Indian-origin doctor in US has implanted the first miniature-sized, leadless cardiac pacemaker directly inside a patient's heart without surgery through catheter-guided procedure through groin via femoral artery. The pacemaker is 10% size of traditional pacemakers and resembles a small metal silver tube. The lead less pacemaker is reported to have the following advantages over the traditional pacemaker:
No visible pacemaker device under a patient's chest skin, no incision scar, no restriction on patients' activities reducing the number of precautions.
Dr.Vivek Reddy needs to applauded for the surgery free implantation of pacemaker.
@Ashok Goyal, Can the miniature-sized, leadless cardiac pacemaker inserted without surgery through catheter-guided procedure is available in India. If yes, at which hospitals?
No, It is not available in India till today.
An excellent and useful article for pacemaker users. My father has undergone pacemaker implant twice, first in 2000 and second in 2013. The pacemakers have functioned excellently because of the precautions taken by my father. Till date he has not used cellphones, avoided touching electrical appliances with wet hands, avoided touching electric switches and going out during lightning. He keeps the guarantee card, name of the manufacturer and the name of supplier handy in case of emergency. Other pacemaker-users must also take these precautions.