Pacemaker / Biomedical Implant Electromagnetic Interference EMI Sources & Issues

While pacemakers and other biomedical implants and implantable devices are somewhat more resistant to electromagnetic interference (EMI) than in previous generations, there are also more sources of potential EMI from new technologies such as hybrid vehicles, wireless chargers and so forth.

For example, the DC magnetic field from headphones can exceed 10 Gauss and can demonstrably interfere with the operation of a pacemaker. Cardiac centers a few years ago did a study and found that up to 15 % of patients with a pacemaker experienced interference issues when headphone came within 1.2 inches of the device, and up to 30 % of patients with an ICD (Implanted Cardioverter Defibrillator) also demonstrated operational abnormalities caused by the close proximity of the speaker.

While cell phones and MP3 players are less likely to cause issues, they should still be kept away from the heart / bioimplant area as there is a chance that RF energy from these electronic device could cause unpredictable behavior. Several years ago, there were some studies that indicated that MP3 players themselves (separate from the magnetic field of the speakers) could not affect a pacemaker, but since then MP3 players have evolved to other transmission modalities which involve using radiated Bluetooth frequencies.

Also, recent studies (June 2015) have shown that cell phone can influence pacemakers in unexpected ways. At close range (within 6 inches) pacemakers can misinterpret the signal from a cell phone as a cardiac signal which then responds by consequently pausing the cardiac rhythm of the patient and could lead to fainting. For ICDs, the cell phone signal could be mistaken for ventricular tachyarrhythmia and lead to a painful shock as the ICD is programmed to respond to what it thinks is abnormal heart rhythm.

Also, high electric fields such as those beneath high voltage power lines could induce similar behavior if the implants are set to configurations which lower their EMI susceptibility.

Pacemaker ICD Diagram EMI Electromagnetic Interference Testing

Pacemaker ICD Diagram


EMF Electromagnetic Interference EMI testing voltage noise frequency spectrum Houston Austin Dallas Fort Worth San Antonio

Electromagnetic Interference EMI Testing Voltage Noise Frequency Spectrum


As more technologies such as WiFi, Wireless Internet, Bluetooth, RFID and other communication linked technologies began to saturate offices and manufacturing plants, the potential for conflicts only increases. An experienced consulting company such as ScanTech can help minimize downtime and frustrating delays by quickly isolating and mitigating such interference problems.



FDA MAUDE (Manufacturer User Device Experience Database

Boston Scientific Technical Support Lines

IEC 61000-4-8 AC Magnetic Field Standards

Agilent IEC 61000-4-8 AC Magnetic Field Specs – PDF Format

IEC 61000-4-3 RF Standards

Manuals for St. Jude Medical / Abbot Laboratories Biomedical Device Implants

Medtronic Biomedical EMI Testing – PDF Format

Boston Scientific Electromagnetic Compatibility Guide.pdf

Spinal Cord Stimulators (SCS) & MRI Questions

CardioMEMS PA HF EMI Testing Manual – PDF Format

Environmental Electromagnetic EMI Interference Pacemakers ICDs – PDF Format

Implantable Biomedical Devices Pacemakers EMI Testing Electromagnetic Environment – PDF Format

Electromagnetic Interference EMI Pacemakers ICDs Technical Paper- PDF Format

ICNIRP EMF Survey Guidelines – PDF Format

EMI Pacemakers Magnetic Electric Interference – PDF Format

EKG Measurements Noise EMI Electromagnetic Noise PDF Format


Pacemakers & Biomedical Implant Electromagnetic Interference EMF / EMI Testing – EMF Surveys

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