What precautions should you take with a pacemaker?


Quick Answer

According to Johns Hopkins Medicine, modern pacemakers are very reliable and require fewer precautions than earlier models, but some precautions are still recommended. Those with pacemakers and similar implantable cardioverter defibrillator devices need to avoid prolonged contact with strong magnets that could disrupt their devices. Patients should carry identification stating that they have pacemakers and inform all medical personnel about their device before any procedures.

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Full Answer

Johns Hopkins Medicine recommends that patients with pacemakers inform airport security officers about their devices and avoid prolonged contact over a couple of seconds with airport security devices. Patients should use alternatives to magnetic resonance imaging unless absolutely necessary. Shock wave therapy for kidney stones, radiation therapy for cancer and diathermy, a type of electrically produced heat-based physical therapy, should all be avoided if possible. If a procedure is absolutely necessary, the patient's cardiologist needs to be consulted, and trained personnel should be present to monitor the patient's condition and make adjustments to the pacemaker's programming if necessary.

Johns Hopkins Medicine maintains that patients with pacemakers should avoid high-voltage and radar machinery, and should turn off car and boat motors when doing mechanical work on them. Although cellphones and headphones are safe to use with pacemakers, they should not be placed close to the device. Cellphones need to be used and stored at least 6 inches away from the pacemaker site, and headphones should be kept at least 1.2 inches away from the pacemaker site.

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