View Full Version : Pacemakers and the shop???

01-01-2017, 03:11 PM
My newest piece of equipment is a Pacemaker. I didn't particularly want one, but when my doctor told me to check into the Oregon Heart and Vascular Institute this past Friday, thats where I went. Now I have a two day old Pacemaker.
I know there must be some of you guys that have Pacemakers. How do you get along being in the area of your running equipment and power tools? Blue Tooth stuff is another item they don't want you close to. Heck nearly every thing I have has some sort of Blue Tooth technology associated with it.
I guess I will have to make me one of those note card things I see the football quarterbacks ware with a list of no no's.

01-01-2017, 03:34 PM
Most of us would love to own a 2 day old Pacemaker.
Oh wait, you don't mean the lathe brand. :p

Here are a couple of relevant threads:


loose nut
01-01-2017, 03:48 PM
An old pacemaker is probably cheaper then your new one.

old mart
01-01-2017, 03:59 PM
Did the doc impose any restrictions, such as welding?
You could get a chainmail vest to*use as a personal Faraday cage.;)

01-01-2017, 04:22 PM
I have heard of people question welding with high frequency TIG and also being in close proximity to any type of strong RF transmitting equipment.
I would think the doctor would have a list of things to avoid or a number to the manufacturer of the pacemaker where you can ask them directly.


01-01-2017, 04:23 PM
Welding, in particular welding that might have high frequency components in the arc (I.e. MIG and IG) are the most often cited as possibly being problematic. I've never heard anyone worry about or report doctor's warnings about other stuff --- after all, most of it is plain ole electric motors at some lowing frequency.

That all said, I presume you would not ask your cardiologist about the bet way to machine something ... so why are you asking a bunch of machinists about cardiology? In other words, go ask your doctor!

Happy new year

01-01-2017, 04:25 PM
Mine weighs over 6000#s how do you lug that thing around? Sorry for the bad taste in humor. I'd make a list of your daily activity & have the doc check it. Seems to me it would be cheap & a must to have an alarm telling you you're near danger as you could be in a store, shop, etc & not realize what's going on behind something something close to you.

01-01-2017, 05:41 PM
I was in the pacemaker business for 15 years and I have one as well.

In general there isn't too much to worry about. If you have any question, you can ask your doctor, or talk to the pacemaker manufacturer about a specific question. All three of the US manufacturers have Tech Support people who are knowledgeable about their products.

As a user myself, there are a few things I do to avoid problems. Any source of sparks is a potential problem if the sparks continue. The reality is arc welding is something that should probably be avoided. I would keep some distance away. How much, I don't know. I haven't seen any data that any one has really looked at the potential problems.

Cell phones have caused problems in the past, but the RF shielding in the pacemakers has gotten better. In the Patient Manual, there will be some guidelines for cell phone use. Basically, keep the cell phone away from the pacemaker as far as possible. Don't put the cell phone in your shirt pocket, put it in your pants pocket. I don't get close to big high power RF transmitters. I don't plan on visiting any big induction heating facilities.

I don't stand in the doorway of most any retail store. They have electronic article surveillence devices in most of them. These are the big rectangular antennas at the door. Some places, you can't see them. They won't cause a problem if you just walk through and get away from them - (10+ feet). They may not cause a problem if you stand next to them, but I don't want to be the experiment guinea-pig.

I don't get too close to strong magnets. Your pacemaker has a magnetic switch that can be affected by strong magnetic fields.

Again if you have any questions, discuss it with your doctor or talk to the manufacturer's tech support people.


01-01-2017, 07:36 PM
I don't know for sure how much magnetic field leaks out of our motors but given what JH said above I'd likely make it a point to keep the portion of your chest with the pacemaker away from any motors that are running. Like arm's length. Mostly it won't be an issue unless you're working on a machine in tight quarters where the machine is running. If so keep aware of your distance to the motor from the pacemaker.

The arc of any welder is a high energy source of very broadband RF energy. But it's spread out over the entire spectrum. But it will tend to flood items that are sensitive to RF interference. So talk to the doc about welding. With all the welders out there with grey or no hair I can't believe that there isn't any with a pacemaker as well.

Mike Amick
01-01-2017, 08:41 PM
Also .. it sounds like you have the type of PM that helps regulate the rhythm of your heart. Not suggesting that,
that isn't serious. But .. if you had the one that your heart needs the thing to beat ... then you would realllly want
to be careful.

But ... I'm really just echoing what I have heard.

01-01-2017, 08:42 PM
I remember back in the late 70's when a not so well liked guy (who just happened to have a pacemaker in his chest) was about to retire. Someone asked if they should get him a farewell gift and one wag suggested a microwave oven...

01-02-2017, 08:48 AM
I got my PM about 4 years ago. I was told at release from the hospital to 1. Don't use electric welding equipment so I sold my TIG welder, 2. Don't go near high magnetic fields like being around large generators and 3. don't use a chainsaw.
O.K. I understood the first two but couldn't understand the third one so I asked. The nurse was quite informed and this was her explanation. She said "how do you start and use a chainsaw?", to which I responded "I hold it down with foot or hand and start it." She replies "and once it's started what do you do next?" "I pick it up and hold it about waist or chest high as I'm moving about." She then says "and where is the magneto located when you are carrying it about?" Hmm, it's in close proximity to the PM. It made sense so when I use a chainsaw I make sure I don't hold it up too high and have never had a problem.
As far as you question relating to shop issues I haven't had any. My Logan lathe has the 3/4 horse motor under cabinet. My Grizzly mill has the 3 phase motor on top to the rear similar to a Bridgeport. The only machine that I might question is this 6 inch Atlas/Craftsman mounted on the bench with motor to the rear. When operating it my chest would be about 2-3 feet from the motor but I have never had any issues. Likewise for shop vac, bandsaw and pedestal grinder.
I was told with the new units that if you get near enough to an electrical field that might disrupt the PM then just step away and it will reset itself.
As far as the TIG welder goes when I first got the PM I researched using it with the PM and got answers all over the map, which is usual when you search the internet. These answers ranged from don't use it ever to twist the cords and put shielding around them etc., so for the sake of not having to find out which idea would work best I sold it.

01-02-2017, 09:39 AM
I have a defibrillator. I can use a plasma cutter. made sure I had someone around the first time I sparked it up.

01-02-2017, 10:00 AM
You should not use a TENS device on your chest near the PM. (You can buy them in the drugstore now.)
I have no idea about welding.
I am pretty sure that motors will not bother you. The frequency is too low.

01-02-2017, 10:35 AM
And if you use a TENS unit don't have it on the highest setting go to sleep & roll over & some freak way wake up in total horror with it stuck to the tip on Mr Winky. Don't ask me how I know but if it was on tape I could have won $10k on the worlds funniest videos. It hurts to even type about it.:rolleyes:

01-02-2017, 12:56 PM
Thanks for all the information guys, some very interesting and useful stuff.

One of the high tech things that came with my PM is a device that I will plug inline to my hardwired house telephone. When I get it set up and running, It will, when ever I get with in 6 feet of it, will download information from my PM and then send or transmit that information to my heart specialist, informing him of my condition and the condition of my PM.

I will ask the doctor about arc welding, I don't do it but about a couple time a year, I wonder if it's the welder unit itself or the at the stinger where the problem occurs.
I went out to my shop and made a survey of possible problems and I think I should be Ok with most all the equipment and tools if I use a little caution.

After a little research it would appear the worst thing that could happen, is getting zapped with a police stun gun or taser. Guess I will have to stay away from those.

01-02-2017, 01:17 PM
So what about instead of selling stuff etc you figure out a way to shield yourself from the potentially bad stuff. I have no idea how but im of the mentality that I would want to figure out a way to do what I love other than giving it up. Maybe someone out there whos smarter than I am knows a way.

01-02-2017, 02:37 PM
I have a question maybe some of you guys could come up with a answer, Welding: would a wire feed welder be safer than a stick arc welder? I have always wanted a wire feed, this might be the perfect excuse to switch to a wire feed.

Mike Amick
01-02-2017, 02:52 PM
Ya know .. I understand the theoreticals here, but where are the stories of people doing these unadvised
activities and something bad happening.

Jess, being in the business may be able to give some examples .. but .. I have never heard of them. Hey, I have
had two open hearts, so I am not sympathetic to the dangers .. I am just saying, I am not so sure that I would
sell all my stuff and be overly cautious.

Pause ...

Just did a google search and it was rather interesting reading about different PM fails. Things like dead battery,
broken leads, failure to capture, etc.

The one article talked about how EMI can cause the sensor to quit sensing during the interference. Inferring that
the sensor should work fine after the EMI is gone.

01-04-2017, 03:35 PM
I don't have one and I am not offering advice.

I will mention that about 8-10 yrs ago a guy on rec.crafts.metalworking newsgroup (just about the time it was totally being overrun by non-metalworking postings) got one. He had a scientific background did quite a bit of research and then did some welding tests using himself as the test subject (and with instrumentation monitoring the space around himself (magnetic field?, too long ago and I just do not remember the details)). There was one type of welding that he avoided because of potential higher risk (I can't remember what machine he avoided). He submitted his data to the pacemaker mfg. Then he ended up being invited to an engineering mtg at the pacemaker mfg to be interviewed. At the time, pacemaker recipients were told to stay away from welding but (at least from that mfg) no one had ever done any studies on what actually happens w/ respect to the pacemaker when welding. About the time I left that group and migrated over here.

01-04-2017, 04:15 PM
Ghee whiz Gentlemen,
I didn't sell all my 'stuff', just the welder. I guess when the doc tells you your cholesterol is high and you should cut back on bacon and eggs you can either do what he says or take your chances. I guess I could have experimented with the welder and when I passed out and hit the floor I could say well that wasn't a good idea. For me personally life has way too many things to offer, especially at my age so I go with the flow.

01-04-2017, 05:56 PM
It seems wise to try to avoid something that might kill you, either directly or by taking out your life support system. This discussion reminds me of the saying "If at first you don't succeed, maybe skydiving wasn't for you."

01-04-2017, 06:15 PM
My dad has a pacemaker. Had it installed 3 times before they got the leads in the right place, and he felt so good that he was overdoing it and managed to pull the lead out. Of course there might be another explanation. The rep from the company that made the pacemaker met with him each time to test it and make adjustments. She was drop dead gorgeous! At 80 he comes out of the office and says "I'm in love! How do I screw this thing up again!"