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Living with Your Implanted Device:

What You Need to Know About Electromagnetic Interference (EMI)

Your implanted heart rhythm device is designed to work properly around most appliances and equipment. Most things you handle or work near every day will not cause a problem. However, people with all types of implanted devices do need to be aware that their device can be affected by electromagnetic interference (EMI).

What is EMI?

EMI is the term used to describe the effect of an electromagnetic field on the operation of an implanted heart rhythm device. Electromagnetic fields are invisible lines of force due to a combination of electrical fields (produced by voltage) and magnetic fields (produced by current flow) that an object emits. EMI occurs when the signals from an electromagnetic field temporarily interfere with the intended operation of the implanted device.

How could EMI affect my device?

In some cases, an implanted device may sense the electromagnetic signals produced by some objects and misinterpret them as a rapid signal coming from your heart.

A pacemaker (including the pacemaker contained within a defibrillator) may interpret the signals as your heart rhythm. It may respond by withholding its pacing.
A defibrillator may interpret the signals as a heart rhythm that needs therapy. This could cause the device to deliver a shock that you don’t need. In rare cases, the device could withhold a necessary shock.

The effects of EMI are temporary. The closer your implanted device is to the item, the stronger the effect. The farther away, the less effect you will experience. EMI effects do not usually harm your device.

How can a magnet affect my device?

A magnet can also cause your implanted device to respond differently if your device gets within six inches of the magnet. Your defibrillator will respond to a magnet based on how your doctor has programmed your device to respond. A pacemaker will respond by temporarily pacing at a different pre-set rate. Ask your doctor for more information.

Note: If you have a defibrillator, some strong magnetic fields may cause your device to make beeping tones. If you hear beeping tones from your device, you should:

Immediately move away from the object that may be causing the beeping.
Call your doctor to report the beeping.

Hear A Defibrillator Beep

  • A defibrillator may make a beeping sound when the airport security staff checks it with a hand-held security wand.
  • When the wand moves away the beeping sound stops.
  • A security wand passed quickly over a device will not harm the device.

Which items are safe to use? Which items shouldn’t I use?

The listing gives a broad overview of which items are safe, which to use precautions with, and which items you should not use. This table includes some of the most common items that cause interference. It does not include every item that you handle or work near.

Talk to your doctor if you have more questions about a specific appliance, tool, medical procedure, or piece of equipment. Be sure to ask your doctor if you should follow any special instructions not listed here. For more information, you can also call Boston Scientific Patient Services at 1.866.484.3268 or visit www.lifebeatonline.com.



TYPE OF ITEM

SAFE UNDER NORMAL USE¹

USE PRECAUTIONS²

DO NOT USE³

Personal Items - Electric blankets
- Electric toothbrushes
- Electric razors
- Hair dryers
- Heating pads
- Pagers
- Patient alert devices
- Personal digital assistants (PDAs; unless used as cell phone; see cell phones)
Cell phones
- Keep 6 inches from device
- Keep 12 inches from device if transmits more than 3 watts
- Hold phone to ear on the opposite side of body from device
- Do not carry phone in breast pocket or belt within 6 inches of device
Cordless phones
- Safe as long as not placed directly over device
Hand-held massagers
- Safe as long as not placed directly over device
- Body fat measuring scales
- Magnetic mattresses or chairs
Kitchen, Tabletop, Household Items - Air purifiers
- Blenders
- Clothes dryers
- Convection ovens
- Electric can openers
- Electric ovens and stoves
- Food processors
- Gas ovens and stoves
- Microwave ovens
- Portable space heaters
- Vacuum cleaners
- Washing machines
   
Office, Shop, and Yard Equipment - Copy machines
- Electric invisible fences
- Fax machines
- Personal computers
Arc welding equipment
- Keep 24 inches from device

For the following items, keep 12 inches from device:
- Battery-powered cordless power tools
- Chainsaws
- Corded drills and power tools
- Lawn mowers
- Leaf blowers
- Shop tools (drills, table saws, etc.)
- Snowblowers

Running motors and alternators, especially those found in vehicles
- Keep 24 inches from device
- Avoid leaning over running motors and alternators of a running vehicle
- Distance required to drive or ride in a vehicle is safe
Jackhammers
Entertainment Items - AM/FM radios
- CD/DVD players
- Hot tubs/whirlpool baths (with permission from your doctor for your medical condition)
- Laser tag games
- Multimedia players such as iPods and MP3 players
- Remote controls (TV, garage door, stereo, camera/ video equipment)
- Tanning beds
- TVs and VCRs
- Video games
Bingo game magnetic wands
- Keep 6 inches from device

CB and police radio antennas
- Keep 24 inches from device

Slot machines
- Keep 12 inches from device

Stereo speakers
- Keep 12 inches from device
 
Travel/Environment   Security systems (in airports, jails, courthouses, etc.)
- Walk through security archways normally
- Tell security personnel you have a device and show Medical Device ID card
- Security wand should not be held over device more than about 30 seconds; ask for hand-search if possible

Theft detection systems (often in store and library entrances)
- Walk through theft detection systems at a normal pace
- Do not lean against or linger near these systems
 
Dental and Medical Tests and Procedures - CT scans
- Dental drills and cleaning equipment
- Diagnostic X-rays
- Electrocardiogram (ECG)
- Mammography (inform technician you have device to ensure device does not get compressed)
- Ultrasound
Radiation therapy, electrocautery used in surgery, TENS unit
- Contact your doctor
- For more information, call Boston Scientific Patient Services
- MRI scans
- Diathermy
  1. Safe
    These items are only considered safe from electromagnetic interference with your device when used normally in accordance with their intended use. Check with your doctor for any additional restrictions that you may have for these items.
  2. Use precautions
    When you are near any of these items, you should use precautions. Check with your doctor for detailed information before using these items.
  3. Do not use
    Talk to your doctor. The table lists a general category of items only. For specific branded items, consult the original manufacturer for any interaction with implantable devices.

Important Safety Information

Cardiac Resynchronization Therapy Devices from Boston Scientific CRM

Cardiac resynchronization therapy pacemakers (CRT-P) and defibrillators (CRT-D) are designed to treat heart failure patients who may or may not have symptoms (CRT-D), or who may have symptoms despite the best available drug therapy (CRT-P and CRT-D). They are also designed to help your heart pump more effectively and meet your body’s need for blood flow. CRT-P and CRT-D systems are not for everyone, including people with separate implantable cardioverter-defibrillators (CRT-P only) or certain steroid allergies. Procedure risks include infection, tissue damage, and kidney failure. Patients who should not receive this device include: patients who have additional medical conditions that may not allow the pacemaker to function appropriately (CRT-P only) and patients whose ventricular rhythm disturbances or heart failure have a reversible or temporary cause. In some cases, the device may be unable to detect or appropriately respond to your heart rhythm (CRT-P and CRT-D) or may deliver inappropriate shocks (CRT-D only). In rare cases severe complications or device failures can occur. Electrical or magnetic fields can affect the device. Only your doctor knows what is right for you. These devices are available by prescription only. Individual results may vary. Your physician should discuss all potential benefits and risks with you. For further safety information, refer to the Physicians Instructions for Use or call 1/866-484-3268.

(Rev. G)

Implantable Cardioverter Defibrillators from Boston Scientific CRM

An implantable cardioverter defibrillator is designed to monitor and treat heart rhythm problems, greatly reducing the risks associated with them. But it is not for everyone, including people with certain steroid allergies. Procedure risks include infection, tissue damage, and kidney failure. Patients who should not receive this device include: patients whose ventricular rhythm disturbances have a reversible or temporary cause and patients with certain types of atrial rhythm disturbances. Procedure risks include infection and tissue damage. In some cases, the device may not respond to irregular heartbeats or may deliver inappropriate shocks. In rare cases severe complications or device failures can occur. Electrical or magnetic fields can affect the device. Only your doctor knows what is right for you. This device is available by prescription only. Individual results may vary. Your physician should discuss all potential benefits and risks with you. For further safety information, refer to the Physicians Instructions for Use or call 1/866-484-3268.

(Rev. G)

Pacemakers from Boston Scientific CRM

A pacemaker system is designed to monitor and treat your heart rhythm problems, greatly reducing the risks associated with them. But it is not for everyone, including patients with certain steroid allergies. Procedure risks include infection, tissue damage, and kidney failure. Patients who have additional medical conditions that may not allow the pacemaker to function appropriately should not receive a device. In rare cases severe complications or device failures can occur. Electrical or magnetic fields can affect the device. Only your doctor knows what is right for you. This device is available by prescription only. Individual results may vary. Your physician should discuss all potential benefits and risks with you. For further safety information, refer to the Physicians Instructions for Use or call 1/866-484-3268.

(Rev. G)

For All Devices

In rare cases severe complications or device failures can occur. Electrical or magnetic fields can affect the device. Only your doctor knows what is right for you. These devices are available by prescription only. Individual results may vary.

Device Quality and Reliability

It is Boston Scientific’s intent to provide implantable devices of high quality and reliability. However, these devices may exhibit malfunctions that may result in lost or compromised ability to deliver therapy. Refer to Boston Scientific’s CRM product performance report on www.guidant.com for more information about device performance, including the types and rates of malfunctions that these devices have experienced historically. While historical data may not be predictive of future device performance, such data can provide important context for understanding the overall reliability of these types of products. Also, it is important that you talk with your doctor about the risks and benefits associated with the implantation of a device.

(Rev. B)