Electromagnetic Interference in Cardiac Rhythm Management Devices

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Abstract

Clinicians caring for cardiac device patients with implanted pacemakers or cardioverter defibrillators (ICDs) are frequently asked questions by their patients concerning electromagnetic interference (EMI) sources and the devices. EMI may be radiated or conducted and may be present in many different forms including (but not limited to) radiofrequency waves, microwaves, ionizing radiation, acoustic radiation, static and pulsed magnetic fields, and electric currents. Manufacturers have done an exemplary job of interference protection with device features such as titanium casing, signal filtering, interference rejection circuits, feedthrough capacitors, noise reversion function, and programmable parameters. Nevertheless, EMI remains a real concern and a potential danger. Many factors influence EMI including those which the patient can regulate (eg, distance from and duration of exposure) and some the patient cannot control (eg, intensity of the EMI field, signal frequency). Potential device responses are many and range from simple temporary oversensing to permanent device damage Several of the more common EMI-generating devices and their likely effects on cardiac devices are considered in the medical, home, and daily living and work environments.

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