Your child should wear a medical identification bracelet or necklace to let others know about the pacemaker or ICD in case of emergency. When he/she is old enough to have a wallet, it is a good idea to carry an ID card that states he/she has a pacemaker or ICD.
In the past, people with pacemakers risked interference with the proper functioning of their pacemakers due to coming in close proximity with common electrical appliances. However, with improvements in pacemaker technology, some of these issues are no longer of major concern.
According to The American Heart Association and pacemaker manufacturers, the following items have not been shown to alter the function of today's pacemakers:
Kitchen appliances such as blenders, toaster ovens, and electric knives
Televisions (including the remote control), FM and AM radios, and stereos
TV and radio transmitters
Ham radios and CB radios
Electric blankets and heating pads
Electric shavers, hair dryers, curling irons, and other personal care appliances
Gardening machinery, such as electric trimmers
Garage door openers
Copying and fax machines
Properly grounded shop tools (except power generators or arc welding equipment)
Cellular phones can affect the functioning of pacemakers and ICDs. Most pacemakers made today have a filter that blocks out the radio signals emitted from cellular phones; however, this is still unreliable. Studies are being done to investigate this further. For this reason, cell phones should be kept at least 6 inches from the device and not carried in the shirt pocket on the side where the pacemaker is implanted.
Make sure your child uses caution when going through security detectors at airports and government buildings such as courthouses. Pacemakers currently being manufactured should not be affected by these security devices, as long as the child moves through and away from the detector at a normal speed. Check with your child's physician about the safety of going through such detectors with your child's particular pacemaker. The metal in the pacemaker may activate a security alarm, however. Be prepared to show an identification card for the pacemaker or a medical identification bracelet in order to pass through security checkpoints.
The following situations may cause interference with pacemakers and/or ICDs. (Some of the activities mentioned are not appropriate until a child nears adulthood, but may affect older teenagers.) Discuss the following in detail with your child's physician:
Avoid working with, holding, or carrying magnets near the pacemaker/ICD.
Avoid magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) machines or other large magnetic fields, since the pacemaker's performance can be affected. Metal objects are not permitted near MRI machines.
Abstain from diathermy (the use of heat in physical therapy to treat muscles).
Turn off large motors, such as cars or boats, when working on them, as they may temporarily "confuse" the pacemaker's or ICD. Do not use chain saws, because of the close contact with the motor components.
Avoid certain high-voltage machinery, such as electric arc welders, high-tension wires, radar installations, smelting furnaces, electric steel furnaces, and other high-current industrial equipment. Avoid working in restricted spaces near radio or television transmitting towers and antennas.
Avoid close contact with large stereo speakers such as in auditoriums and concerts.
If your child is having a surgical procedure performed by a surgeon or dentist, tell the surgeon or dentist that your child has a pacemaker so that electrocautery will be used with caution to control bleeding (the electrocautery device can change the pacemaker settings).
Certain medical procedures may occasionally affect the function of the pacemaker, but might be performed successfully with some adjustments to the pacemaker settings. These procedures include the following:
Extracorporeal shock-wave lithotripsy (ESWL) - a procedure that dissolves kidney stones.
Radiofrequency ablation - a procedure that uses radio waves to control irregular heart rhythms.
Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) - a device used to relieve acute or chronic pain.
Therapeutic radiation treatments for cancer
Consult your child's physician before your child undergoes these procedures.
Your child may also have to take antibiotic medication before any medically-invasive procedure to prevent infections that may affect the pacemaker or your child's heart.
Always consult your child's physician if you have any questions concerning the use of certain equipment near your child's pacemaker.