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Living with a Device

Most household appliances do not interfere with pacemakers. For example, electric blankets, heating pads, vacuum cleaners and microwave ovens can be used and will not interfere with the function of your pacemaker.

Cell Phones

While your cell phone may not affect your pacemaker, to be safe, use your cell phone on the side opposite of where the device was implanted. Cell phones should not be placed directly against the chest or on the same side as your device.

MP3 Player Headphones

This type of headphone may contain a magnetic part that can affect pacemaker function. Keep headphones 1 – 2 inches away from your pacemaker. Do not keep your headphones in the breast pocket of a shirt or drape them around your neck.

Security Devices

If you must pass through entrances where anti-theft devices or metal detectors are being used for security, be sure to walk quickly through them. If hand-held metal detector scanning is necessary, tell the security personnel that you have a pacemaker. You should not hold the metal detector near the device for any length of time.

Powerful magnets, magnet fields, and equipment

You will need to avoid strong electric or magnetic fields, such as: some industrial equipment, ham radios, high intensity radiowaves (found near large electrical generators, power plants, or radiofrequency transmission towers), and arc resistance welders.

In strong magnetic fields, the device stops monitoring your heart rhythm. Once you are out of these fields, normal device function resumes and there is no damage to the device.

Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)

Some devices are compatible with MRI’s. If you have been instructed to have an MRI, contact your implanting physician about the type of device that you have implanted and if this type of testing is safe for you.

Hybrid Cars

Stay about 2 feet away from the engine and do not keep your smart key near your device. Do not put it in a pocket that is over your device. **

Electric Fence for Pets

Stay at least a foot away. **

** We know these are very conservative recommendations and there have been no reports of adverse outcomes due to exposure to either of these environments, however this information has been recommended by current sources and is the best information we have at this time.

If you have any questions about the use of equipment around your device, check your device manufacturer website and ask your doctor or nurse. More information can be found on the American Heart Association website.

Carry an ID Card

You will receive a temporary ID card that tells you what type of device and leads you have, the device manufacturer, the date of the device implant and the doctor’s name who implanted the pacemaker. Within three months you will receive a permanent ID card from the device company. It is important to carry this card at all times in case you need medical attention or to tell people you have a pacemaker.

Tell your doctors, dentists and other health care providers you have a device.

Let your health care providers know you have an implanted device. In rare occasions they may want to adjust your treatment plan because you have a pacemaker or defibrillator.

Airport Security

Should the security personnel use a wand to clear people, show them your card, and ask them to avoid placing the wand over your implanted heart device. Ask security if there is another method for clearance.

Keep your follow-up appointments with your doctor.

Device Checks

If you have a single or dual chamber pacemaker: After your first follow-up appointment, your pacemaker should be checked every 3 months from home, using a telephone transmitter or a remote transmitter. You will receive instructions on how to use the telephone transmitter in the Device Clinic.

If you have a biventricular pacemaker (cardiac resynchronization therapy device - CRT): After your first follow-up appointment, your device should be checked every 3 months from home, using a remote monitor . You will receive instructions on how to use the remote monitor in the Device Clinic. Your biventricular pacemaker also should be checked every 6 months in the Device Clinic.

If you have an implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD): After your first follow-up appointment, your device should be checked every 6 months in the Device Clinic. Your ICD is capable of being monitored with a remote transmitter. This lets the device clinic know of any changes that may occur in your in your device. You may only need to have it checked in-person once a year. You will receive instructions on the use of the remote transmitter while at the Device Clinic.

Every year, around the anniversary of your device implant, you will have an echocardiogram scheduled along with a complete device check in the Device Clinic. This appointment is different than the telephone transmitter check or the remote monitoring check, since the leads are tested during this appointment.

Call 911 if you receive multiple shocks in a day

Call your health care provider

If you have any of these signs or symptoms:

  • Dizziness or Lightheaded
  • Palpitations
  • Fast or slow heart rates
  • Lose consciousness before receiving therapy from the device
  • Shortness of breath that is increased or occurs at rest
  • Have numbness or tingling of the arm closest to the device

These symptoms may be related to your device. Call the telephone transmitter line from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m., Monday through Friday to check your device. You will be provided the phone number prior to leaving the hospital. If these symptoms occur during non-operating hours, you should go to the nearest emergency room.

Device therapy – what to do if you receive therapy from your ICD device

  • Stay calm or lie down
  • If someone is touching you when the device delivers therapy or fires, he or she may feel a tingling sensation, this is not harmful
  • If possible, ask someone to stay with you until you feel better
  • If you feel fine after the shock, you do not need to seek medical attention

But, call your doctor within 24 hours.

Call your doctor if you:

  • Do not feel well within 5 to 10 minutes after receiving the shock; call your doctor or 9-1-1
  • Call your doctor within 24 hours after receiving a shock, even if you feel fine
  • Receive therapy from the device two or more times in a 48 hour period
  • Receive therapy from the device before your 6 – 8 week follow-up visit

Call your doctor or nursing staff if you have any questions or concerns. You can reach the nursing staff in the Device Clinic from 8 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., Monday through Friday. We prefer that you call during these hours if at all possible. You will be provided the phone number prior to leaving the hospital.

ID card

Always bring your ID card with you when you travel.

Be prepared

Ask your doctor or health care team what to do if you have any symptoms or your device fires while you are away.

Airport Security

Should the security personnel use a wand to clear people, show them your card, and ask them to avoid placing the wand over your implanted heart device. Ask security if there is another method for clearance.

Talk to your doctor about:

  • Activities that is appropriate for you.
  • Your heart rate range that works best with your implanted device. Your doctor may need to work with you to find a setting that works best with your exercise.

Do not participate in contact sports that may damage your pacemaker device.

Device therapy is only one part of a comprehensive treatment program. It is also important for you to:

  • Take your medications
  • Eat a healthy diet
  • Live a healthy lifestyle
  • Keep your follow-up appointments and be an active member of your treatment team

Talk to a Nurse: Mon. - Fri., 8:30 a.m. - 4 p.m. (ET)

Call a Heart & Vascular Nurse locally 216.445.9288 or toll-free 866.289.6911.

Schedule an Appointment

Toll-free 800.659.7822

This information is provided by Cleveland Clinic and is not intended to replace the medical advice of your doctor or health care provider. Please consult your health care provider for advice about a specific medical condition.

© Copyright 2014 Cleveland Clinic. All rights reserved.

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