Electronic Appliances Can Interfere with Cardiac Devices

Surveillance systems in public areas can interact with pacemakers and defibrillators

FRIDAY, March 9 (HealthDay News) -- Electronic article surveillance systems can interfere with the functioning of implantable cardiac devices, according to a paper published in the March issue of the Mayo Clinic Proceedings, while a letter to the editor reports on a case of simulated atrial flutter associated with use of a portable CD player while undergoing electrocardiographic testing.

J. Rod Gimbel, M.D., of Parkwest Hospital, and James W. Cox, Jr., M.D., of the University of Tennessee Medical Center, both in Knoxville, Tenn., report on two cases, a 71-year-old man and a 76-year-old woman, whose implantable cardiac devices malfunctioned when they were in proximity to an electronic surveillance system pedestal positioned at the door of a store. The man received two shocks from his device, while the woman collapsed when she paused between the surveillance pedestals.

"Careful facility design and employee education along with patient vigilance remain imperative in avoiding potentially life-threatening electronic article surveillance system-implantable device interactions," the authors conclude.

Both authors are consultants to, or have received funding from Medtronic, Inc., St. Jude Medical, Inc. and/or BIOTRONIK.

In a letter to the editor, Stephen M. Austin, M.D., and colleagues from Covance Clinical Research in Madison, Wis., describe a case of a 20-year-old female whose electrocardiograph gave a simulated reading of atrial flutter while she was listening to music on a portable CD player. "Physicians should be aware of this potential cause of electrocardiographic artifacts," they write.

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