Saf Health Work.  2013 Sep;4(3):156-159.

Testing of Common Electromagnetic Environments for Risk of Interference with Cardiac Pacemaker Function

Affiliations
  • 1Safe New Technologies, Finnish Institute of Occupational Health, Helsinki, Finland. maria.tiikkaja@ttl.fi
  • 2Department of Cardiology, Helsinki University Central Hospital, Helsinki, Finland.
  • 3Physical Work Capacity, Finnish Institute of Occupational Health, Helsinki, Finland.
  • 4Heart Center, Kuopio University Hospital and School of Medicine, University of Eastern Finland, Kuopio, Finland.
  • 5Department of Environmental Science, University of Eastern Finland, Kuopio, Finland.

Abstract

BACKGROUND
Cardiac pacemakers are known to be susceptible to strong electromagnetic fields (EMFs). This in vivo study investigated occurrence of electromagnetic interference with pacemakers caused by common environmental sources of EMFs.
METHODS
Eleven volunteers with a pacemaker were exposed to EMFs produced by two mobile phone base stations, an electrically powered commuter train, and an overhead high voltage transmission lines. All the pacemakers were programmed in normal clinically selected settings with bipolar sensing and pacing configurations.
RESULTS
None of the pacemakers experienced interference in any of these exposure situations. However, often it is not clear whether or not strong EMFs exist in various work environments, and hence an individual risk assessment is needed.
CONCLUSIONS
Modern pacemakers are well shielded against external EMFs, and workers with a pacemaker can most often return to their previous work after having a pacemaker implanted. However, an appropriate risk assessment is still necessary after the implantation of a pacemaker, a change of its generator, or major modification of its programming settings.

Keyword

cardiac pacemakers; electromagnetic fields; occupational exposure; risk assessment
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