The human heart is programmed to beat at a certain rate and rhythm. It also has an override system built in, which allows the heart to adapt to different stresses, such as exercise, shock, fever or emotional stress.
A pacemaker consists of three major parts:
Some devices can interfere with a pacemaker
With a pacemaker in place, everything is back to normal, right? Well, not quite. Like any other sensitive apparatus, a pacemaker can be affected by electromagnetic impulses, which we come across in daily life.
- Microwave ovens, TV’s, CB radios, electric drills, electric blankets, electric shavers, remote control TV channel changers and other home appliances are adequately shielded from interference by these appliances. Consult your cardiologist if you have any concerns
- Cellphones can cause problems if kept in a pocket directly over the battery. But don’t worry; normal use - when held near the ear - is safe.
- Security systems and metal detectors as those found in banks, shopping centres and airports are safe provided a patient walks briskly through the system and does not get too close to the source of the signal.
- MRI-scanners use large magnets which could change pacemaker settings if the proper precautions have not been taken.
- Radiation therapy for cancers can damage the pacemaker. The pacemaker needs to be shielded from the radio-active beams by a lead apron.
- Shock wave technology to break up kidney stones can damage a pacemaker if implanted in the abdomen.
- Arc welding equipment and heavy duty industrial motors generate magnetic fields that can inhibit the function of pacemakers.
- Electrical stimulation to relieve acute or chronic pain is generally safe, but your generator might need to be reprogrammed.