Heart Disease Expert Forum
Defibrillator interference
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This forum is for questions and support regarding heart issues such as: Angina, Angioplasty, Arrhythmia, Bypass Surgery, Cardiomyopathy, Coronary Artery Disease, Defibrillator, Heart Attack, Heart Disease, High Blood Pressure, Mitral Valve Prolapse, Pacemaker, PAD, Stenosis, Stress Tests.

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Defibrillator interference

  What type of signal (e.g. from cell phones or RC toys) effect the functioning of an implanted defibrillator? Are there portable devices to detect the presence of these signals?
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Dear Wyn,
The current thoughts regarding this issue (of what 'signals' effect the implanted cardiac devices like pacemakers and defibrillators) are:
1. MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) is contraindicated in persons with a defibrillator due to the very strong electromagnetic field.
2. As with pacemakers, cell phones should not be held over the area of the body where the device is located (for instance, the devices are often under the pocket of a shirt.)
3. There is no "literature" on RC toys, but there is some concern regarding anti-theft devices and their interference with pacemaker function.
In general, patients with pacemakers (especially those who have a pacemaker dependent rhythm) have more worry regarding interference with function by the different signals above, however for safety reasons, the patient with a defibrillator should also be cautious.
My advice to you is to contact the manufacturer of your device and ask if they have any information regarding the RC toys interfereing with the programming of your device; meanwhile, discuss with your doctor a check of your device after using the RC toys (which are unlikely to interfere with your defibrillator function) and use common sense: do not hold the RC toy or other "signal" gadget on or near your device for any period of time.
I hope this information is useful. Information provided in the heart forum is for
general purposes only.  Only your physician can provided specific diagnoses and therapies.
Feel free to write back with further questions. Good luck!
If you would like to make an appointment at the Cleveland Clinic Heart Center, please
call 1-800-CCF-CARE or inquire online by using the Heart Center website at
www.ccf.org/heartcenter. The Heart Center website contains a directory of the
cardiology staff that can be used to select the physician best suited to address your
cardiac problem.

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