This is the first question that newly wired patients ask and it’s an important one! There are new considerations that you need to take once you have an implanted cardiac device, such as a pacemaker or ICD. Specifically, you should avoid close or prolonged contact with anything that has a strong magnetic field. Here are a list of everyday electronics and items that you might have questions about and some advice on how to interact with them safely.
It is pretty much impossible to avoid cell phones, even if you wanted to do so. While cell phones do not commonly disrupt cardiac devices, it is still considered a best practice to keep them at least 6 inches from your device. This can be done by holding your phone to the opposite ear from the side that your pacemaker is on when talking on your phone or by using a hands-free device. And be sure not to carry your phone in breast shirt or jacket pockets or tuck them into bras.
Properly working microwaves, stoves and ovens shouldn’t interfere with your pacemaker. However, you do need to be careful with induction cooktops, which could cause interference if your device is within two feet of them due to their magnetic fields.
Metal and Anti-theft Detectors
While the full body scanners in airports should not harm your device, there have been cases in which they can interfere with cardiac device functions. It’s best to carry your patient ID card and notify security that you have an implanted cardiac device. Security officials should be aware that a hand search is the safest way to screen you, but if a security officer is using a wand, you should let them know not to hold the wand over your device for any longer than necessary.
Be aware that anti-theft systems and metal detectors are now often found in stores, schools and event spaces. Pass through them as quickly as is practical, and try not linger close to them or lean on them.
You should keep magnets, or anything containing a magnet, at least 6 inches from your device. Be careful with therapeutic jewelry, mattress pads and pillows that use magnets.
Electronic Body Fat Scales
It’s best to avoid using electronic body fat scales due to the electric current used to measure body fat.
Medical and Dental Imaging
Diagnostic X-rays, CT scans, diagnostic ultrasounds, mammograms, and EKGs should not affect your device; however, MRIs are a different story because of the strong magnetic field that they use. While some cardiac devices have a setting that allows you to get MRIs, most do not. You should always consult with your doctor before undergoing MRI imaging.
Other Medical Procedures
Let all of your doctors, dentists, and other health providers know that you have an implanted cardiac device. Be sure to always carry your patent ID card with you. Additionally, you may want to consider wearing a medical ID bracelet with information about your device in case of emergencies.