KEEPING PACEMAKER BATTERIES SAFE

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Do cell phones and electronic surveillance systems in airports, for example, pose a risk to permanently implanted cardiac pacemaker battery packs?
—Joshua Grossman, MD, Johnson City, Tenn.

Patients are often concerned about devices that can interfere with function of their implanted pacemakers—either transiently or permanently. MRI is recognized as a potentially serious problem, although recent studies may change this perception in patients who require MRI testing as a very necessary medical procedure (J Am Coll Cardiol. 2004;43:1315-1324). As far as cell phones, electronic surveillance systems, and antitheft devices, etc., are concerned, the advice of Hayes and Zipes is worth following: Don’t linger near surveillance devices, don’t place cell phones directly over the pacemaker, and tell your surgeon about your pacemaker if a hospital procedure is planned (Zipes DP, Braunwald E, Libby P, et al, eds., Braunwald’s Heart Disease: A Textbook of Cardiovascular Medicine. 7th ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Elsevier Health Sciences; 2004: chap 31).
—Peter F. Cohn, MD (106-8)

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