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Heart Disease Health Center

Pacemakers, ICDs OK in Metal Detectors

Security Devices Won't Set Off Implanted Heart Monitors
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Moreover, all four major implanted defibrillator makers -- Guidant, Medtronic, St. Jude Medical/Ventritex, and Biotronik -- were represented. "I think this is as complete a picture as we can get," Weyerbrock says.

Weyerbrock says next month her group will publish a study in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology that concludes that metal detectors have no adverse effect on either implanted defibrillators or pacemakers. "We conducted the pacemaker study the same way as we tested the ICDs, and both devices will be discussed in our upcoming study."

Hammill says the new report joins a series of studies that have debunked some earlier concerns. "At first we had some concerns about cell phones, but after that issue was studied, it was determined that cell phones posed no risk as long they were not carried in an inside pocket over the device," he tells WebMD.

The next concern was "theft detectors in stores. There was a report that a patient stood inside the detector for several minutes and as result the patient's pacemaker turned off and the patient collapsed. But additional study demonstrated that there is no danger from theft detectors as long as patients don't unnecessarily linger inside them," he says.

The American Heart Association estimates that about 145,000 pacemakers were implanted in 2000, the last year for which data are available, and the North American Society for Pacing and Electrophysiology estimates that about 100,000 Americans receive implanted defibrillators every year.

Finally, Hammill says, "This is really good news for these patients because it means they have one less worry." But he says that it will probably take some time before the standard warnings about metal detectors are dropped by device manufacturers.

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