Electromagnetic Interference

Guide to Electromagnetic Compatibility and Your Cardiac Device

Electromagnetic Interference

For people living with a pacemaker, implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD), or cardiac resynchronization therapy (CRT) device, first learning about electromagnetic fields and how they present in our everyday lives can feel limiting and scary, but it doesn’t have to be. Abbott builds devices to empower people to live their best lives, and our cardiac solutions are built to work around most appliances and tools. However, when you live with an implanted cardiac device, it is important to be aware of electromagnetic interference or EMI.


Electromagnetic Interference (EMI)

EMI, also called radio-frequency interference, is an electromagnetic field generated by an electrical device. This field can cause an interruption in performance of another electronic device within its proximity. What this means is that certain household objects, heavy equipment, and some medical procedures can interfere with the way your implantable cardiac device works.


EMI Symptoms

If you think EMI is affecting your device, symptoms to look for include feeling lightheaded, dizzy, or palpitations (rapid, irregular heartbeat). If you are near electrical equipment or magnets, simply turn off the equipment or walk away. Your device is made to immediately resume normal operation outside of EMI range, usually 12-24 inches.

EMI Symptoms

EMI and Your Device

Any electronic object gives off electromagnetic energy or EMI, which may temporarily affect the normal operation of your implanted heart device. In most cases these energy fields are too weak to affect your heart device, but electrical items with strong energy fields could alter the therapy delivered by your implant.

EMI can potentially:

  • Disrupt the function of a pacemaker, ICD, CRT-P, or CRT-D 
  • Cause an ICD or CRT-D to falsely sense an irregular heart rhythm, sending a shock that is not needed
  • Interfere with a pulmonary artery (PA) sensor reading
EMI and your device

Ask Your Doctor

Ask your doctor for personalized advice about the best way to avoid EMI and for answers to any questions you may have about how specific equipment can affect your device. With a few precautions added to your daily routine, you can ensure you are living your best life, without worrying if your device is functioning correctly.

Ask your doctor
Ask your doctor

EMI Compatability Guide

Medical & Dental Procedures

Procedures to Avoid

Always inform hospital, clinic, and dental staff that you have an implanted cardiac device. The following procedures produce EMI and are not considered safe for people with implanted cardiac devices:

  • Microwave diathermy
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) for non-MR Conditional devices*

* Unless the device is MR Conditional, then consult with your doctor. 


Procedures to Consult Your Doctor About

Consult with your doctor before undergoing the following medical procedures:

  • Acupuncture with electrical stimulus
  • Cardioversion
  • Electrocautery
  • Electroconvulsive therapy
  • Electrolysis
  • Endoscopic procedures: colonoscopy/gastroscopy
  • Hyperbaric therapy
  • Iontophoresis
  • Interferential current therapy
  • Laser/Lasik eye surgery
  • Lithotripsy
  • Radiation therapy
  • Radiofrequency ablation
  • Ultrasound, therapeutic
  • Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS)
  • Transurethral prostate therapy

Procedures with No Known Risk

Medical procedures that you can safely undergo if you have an implanted cardiac device include:

  • Acupuncture with no electrical stimulus
  • Bone density scan
  • CT scan
  • Dental drilling and ultrasonic scalers
  • Electrocardiogram
  • External counter pulsation
  • Fluoroscopy
  • Mammography (position emission tomography (PET))
  • Ultrasound, diagnostic
  • X-ray, diagnostic

Equipment & Tools

Some industrial equipment can produce EMI that can interfere with implanted cardiac devices, consult your doctor before working with or nearby: 

  • Arc welders
  • Induction furnaces
  • Very large or defective electric motors
  • Very large internal combustion engines with poorly shielded ignition systems

Household Items & Electronics

Household Items and Electronics to Avoid

Some household items produce EMI. The following items are not considered safe for people with implanted cardiac devices:

  • Magnetic mattresses or chairs
  • Electrical equipment in poor condition
  • Improperly grounded electrical equipment


Household Items and Electronics with No Known Risk

When used as intended, these common items carry no known risk to implanted cardiac devices. Please use caution with items marked with an asterisks.

  • AM/FM radios
  • Bingo game magnetic wands
  • CB and Ham radio
  • CD/DVD players
  • Cell phones***
  • Copy machines
  • Cordless phones**
  • Hand-held massagers**
  • Hearing aids
  • Electric blankets
  • Electric toothbrushes
  • Electric razors**
  • Electric invisible fences
  • Fax machines
  • Global positioning system (GPS)
  • Hair dryer**
  • Heart rate monitors
  • Heating pads
  • iPods and MP3 players
  • Laser tag games
  • Pagers
  • Patient alert devices
  • Laptop/desktop computers
  • Personal digital assistants
  • Printers
  • Remote controls - TV, garage door, stereo,
    camera/video equipment
  • Scuba diving (up to 200 feet)
  • Slot machines
  • Stereo speakers**
  • Tanning beds
  • TVs and VCRs
  • Video games

** Do not place directly over device 

*** Keep 6 inches from the device

  • Air purifiers
  • Battery-powered cordless power tools
  • Blenders
  • Clothes dryers
  • Convection ovens
  • Corded drills and power tools****
  • Electric can openers
  • Electric knives
  • Electric ovens and stoves
  • Food processors
  • Gas ovens and stoves
  • Gas-powered tools****
  • Hot tubs/whirlpool baths
  • Lawn mowers****
  • Laser level
  • Leaf blowers
  • Microwave ovens
  • Portable space heaters
  • Snow blowers
  • Soldering irons
  • Stud finders
  • Vacuum cleaners
  • Washing machines

**** Keep 12 inches from device












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