If your child has a pacemaker, you may think you know how to keep your child safe. It might be true, but a refresher course doesn’t hurt. These life-saving devices are little miracle workers that keep your heart rhythm normal and regulate arrhythmias, tachycardia, and bradycardia. If you live with someone who has a pacemaker or if you are a caregiver, it’s important you know the issues in case they forget. Let’s take a little pacemaker quiz. Myth or fact: what you should know about pacemakers.
Some People Think….
An Older Pacemaker Works Just As Well As A Newer One
Well, not exactly. There has always been a concern about wearing a pacemaker near a microwave oven. The fear was the microwave was giving off radiation to interfere with the efficiency of the pacemaker. In the early 70s the FDA mandated that microwaves had to limit the amount of radiation leakage. In addition, new pacemakers have shields and protections against interference.
Those with older pacemakers should still check with Dr. Mohamad Al-Ahdab to be sure.
You Are Safe Walking Through An Airport Metal Detector Wearing A Pacemaker
This is actually true, but if you are randomly selected to be screened with a wand, you should tell the official you have a pacemaker and show your ID card. This way they will not let the wand stay near the location of the pacemaker very long.
Talking On A Cellphone Is Perfectly Safe
For the most part, this is true. One exception is keeping a cellphone in a shirt pocket right over the pacemaker. This is not recommended.
Having an MRI Test Could Be Problematic
Yes, this is absolutely true. A magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) test can be a problem. However, newer models of pacemakers have been approved for an MRI. Ask your physician if yours is one of those.
Nevertheless, avoid high tension wires, arc welders, and TV broadcast station antennas which can be risky.
Radiation Therapy For Cancer Can Affect Your Pacemaker
Unfortunately, this is true. Your pacemaker can be damaged. Consult with Dr. Al-Ahdab before having radiation therapy.
Regular Doctor Check Ups Are Essential
Your pacemaker should be evaluated every several months. These evaluations can be performed at the doctor’s office or remotely through the internet or a phone. It is the only way for you to know if your pacemaker is functioning properly.
Contact Kansas Kids Heart Center at (316) 440-8800 if you have additional questions about the safety of your pacemaker.