welding with a heart pacemaker
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  1. #1
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    welding with a heart pacemaker

    What protection is needed to safely weld with a heart pacemaker installed in ones chest?
    I would think that fine wire mesh/ screen would stop any or most all electrical disturbances from getting through to the pacemaker as that's what is in a microwave oven uses in the door glass.Surely there has been some scientific studies done and something recommended.
    Sam

  2. #2
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    Re: welding with a heart pacemaker

    Talk to your Doctor, I had one guy with a pacemaker welding with a mig he needed a 5mtr mig gun to be far enough away from the magnetism from the power source..

    But talk to your doctor.

  3. #3
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    Re: welding with a heart pacemaker

    Just a few random thoughts... I think Inverter welders will generate a lot more High frequency noise than a transformer at the power supply, the arc generates RF also on any welder, any length of wire will act as an antenna converting magnetic energy to electrical current, the power drops by the square of the distance from the source... twice the distance 1/4 the power... so if you decide to weld I'd keep the arc a full arms length for starters... that includes keeping the cable away from your chest as it has a high amperage running through it therefore a strong magnetic field... even if its mostly DC the arc starts and stops generate a pulse...

    What about one of those spool gun welders you attach to a set of batteries??? they might not generate any field other than the Arc-RF/start-stop... www.readywelder.com ??? just thoughts, I'm no expert on pacemakers... good luck and have fun


    Just curious now.... what, if any, are your instructions for safety around a microwave oven???
    I ask because they have intense RF and transformers you can weld with inside them....

  4. #4
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    Re: welding with a heart pacemaker

    Remember the days not too long ago when pacemakers and microwaves were NEW? You used to see those signs on the doors of the 7-11's and offices "Microwave in use".

    You don't see them as much anymore. I guess pacemakers are built better now or those with them just assume that microwaves are everywhere.
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  5. #5
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    Re: welding with a heart pacemaker

    Most modern pacemakers aren't affected by welding radiation. When originally used, there were some concerns, but not so much anymore.

    I remember reading a study a few years ago (5-10) that couldn't find any evidence welding caused changes in the heart rhythm. But if I remember correctly, this was stick welding. I wasn't interested in metal fabrication at the time, so didn't pay a whole lot of attention to it. I'm sure it could be googled to find the study, or a newer study.

    Talk to your doc, he should have the latest info.
    Mark
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  6. #6
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    Re: welding with a heart pacemaker

    Aside from HF used in TIG (which is known to be dangerous to pacemakers), and radiation from the power sources, ALL arcs (even DC) generate copious amounts of radio waves, and the high currents from welding will generate magnetic fields around your cables (because they are not twisted together), which are almost impossible to block (your metal screen will block SOME radio interference, but NO magnetic fields).

    I doubt there's been much scientific testing of pacemakers accepting interference. If a manufacturer tests for that and says some is ok, they incur liability. If they just warn the users to stay away from interference, they're safe.

    Now, is any of that dangerous to you? Who knows, but I'd suggest picking up oxy-acetylene.

    Oh, and the screening on a microwave oven works because the long wavelengths of the microwaves make the waves unable to fit through the tiny holes.

  7. #7
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    Re: welding with a heart pacemaker

    The mesh in a microwave is there to keep the radiation in, yes, but that's not going to work for all types of radiation. Microwave wave length is about on par with the width of a softball. You have holes in a screen large enough and some of those waves will come through and perhaps blind you. This practice is kind of unique to microwave devices of significant power.

    I think the ancient pacemakers were maybe more sensitive to the magnetic fields of the magnetron used in microwave ovens than the radiation itself, if at all.

  8. #8
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    Re: welding with a heart pacemaker

    Can anyone with first hand information ( as having a pacemaker now) give any up to date info.
    I am wanting to know about this to forward to my father-in-law who has had one put in 2 months ago.
    He asked me because I've welded for 30+ years.
    His Doctor gave him a pamphlet saying he could weld if he kept a distance of two feet away from the weld & the lead.Not always possible! Also it said that any effects would be temporary so if he felt any then stop and wait for heart beat to return to normal before resuming to weld. BUT i feel like he does, we would rather ware a shield, if there is one available and then not worry about fainting and falling or something if heart rhythm is upset.
    By the way i was a utilities company lineman for ten years before becoming a welder in 1975. We had to work on hi voltage lines sometimes and had some conductive coveralls that booties clipped to and gloves all connected together to keep static charge from building and zapping us as we moved about, and that makes me believe that someone makes a welding outfit/jacket/coveralls or shield for someone with a pacemaker.....

  9. #9
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    Re: welding with a heart pacemaker

    from a Miller 2050 owner's manual
    1-5. EMF Information
    Considerations About Welding Or Cutting And The Effects Of Low
    Frequency Electric And Magnetic Fields
    Welding or cutting current, as it flows through the welding or cutting
    cables, will cause electromagnetic fields. There has been and still is
    some concern about such fields. However, after examining more than
    500 studies spanning 17 years of research, a special blue ribbon
    committee of the National Research Council concluded that: “The body
    of evidence, in the committee’s judgment, has not demonstrated that
    exposure to power-frequency electric and magnetic fields is a humanhealth
    hazard.” However, studies are still going forth and evidence
    continues to be examined. Until the final conclusions of the research are
    reached, you may wish to minimize your exposure to electromagnetic
    fields when welding or cutting.
    To reduce magnetic fields in the workplace, use the following procedures:
    1. Keep cables close together by twisting or taping them.
    2. Arrange cables to one side and away from the operator.
    3. Do not coil or drape cables around your body.
    4. Keep cutting power source and cables as far away from operator
    as practical.
    5. Connect work clamp to workpiece as close to the cut as possible.
    About Pacemakers:
    Pacemaker wearers consult your doctor first. If cleared by your doctor,
    then following the above procedures is recommended.

  10. #10
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    Re: welding with a heart pacemaker

    Keeping the searches confined to medical sites I haven't seen anything real positive with what I've seen. Glad the decision isn't mine to make.

    Look at these. All the comments come from the sites themselves.

    http://www.eham.net/ehamforum/smf/in...p?topic=1861.0

    Generally,these things are arranged to fall back into basic pacing mode when there's too much RF field sensed. Things you do have to watch include MRI scans, and arc welding.

    http://www.uihealthcare.com/topics/m...fib/index.html

    People with pacemakers and defibrillators who use arc welding devices and other kinds of heavy energy that involve magnetism or electricity tend to have problems.

    http://circ.ahajournals.org/cgi/cont...ha;105/18/2136

    There are some situations, however, that are to be avoided if you have a pacemaker, such as full-contact sports, which may damage the pacemaker, exposure to arc welding equipment, magnetic resonance scanners (MRI), and high-voltage commercial transformers.

    http://www.medtronic.com/rhythms/dow...aws_online.pdf

    It is recommended you avoid
    welding and the use of chain
    saws. We understand some
    individuals may still need to
    use these tools. It is our hope
    that any decision you make
    to use these tools is made in
    consultation with your heart
    doctor.
    "The things that will destroy America are prosperity at any price, peace at any price, safety first instead of duty first, the love of soft living and the get rich quick theory of life." -Theodore Roosevelt

  11. #11
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    Re: welding with a heart pacemaker

    Quote Originally Posted by hockeyman View Post
    What protection is needed to safely weld with a heart pacemaker installed in ones chest? Sam
    First off, I didn't think that a pacemaker would have enough amperage for more than the thinnest sheetmetal. Then there's the problem of the cables coming out of your chest. Did you get that option from your doctor when he installed?

    Still probably better than ChinaCrap welders!
    HTP 2400, HTP 131 TIG, O/A and a ton of fab and mechanics tools.

  12. #12
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    Re: welding with a heart pacemaker

    What are you? Nuts?

  13. #13
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    Re: welding with a heart pacemaker

    Thanks everybody for taking the time to answer back (even 983-over) .
    Taking under advisement and passing info. along to be used along with doctors recommendation also i am sure, thanks again everyone.

  14. #14
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    Re: welding with a heart pacemaker

    I have a pacemaker. I tried to Tig some high amp aluminum and it lit my pacemaker up. This resulted in an urgent reprogram to my pacemaker. No Tig welding with an implanted device. My pacemaker took a 25 year career away from me...

  15. #15
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    Re: welding with a heart pacemaker

    I go along with 983-over. The pulse feature on the pacemaker would make it easier to weld aluminum foil but I think the pulse rate of 60 to 80 a minute would be hard to get used to, as you usually use 60 to 80 a second.

  16. #16
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    Re: welding with a heart pacemaker

    By the longest stretch, a welding forum is NO PLACE to be discussing the medical aspects of pacemakers!!! Please be responsible and refer any questions to a DOCTOR! Pacemakers are a very delicate medical subject that should be addressed by medical professionals only.

    I find it odd that flame wars start over the liability of welding on trailers, but folks will listen to anecdotal stories about medical aspects of life-saving devices such as pacemakers....just my 2c worth.

  17. #17
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    Re: welding with a heart pacemaker

    On Tuesday I was to be fitted with a 24 hour heart monitor, when I told them I welded for a living, they pulled the idea.
    Turns out, you can't even have the thing near an electric blanket, let alone a hi frequency welder.
    Rescheduled for next week.....just no welding.
    Also have to agree with Shortfuse.....go talk with your doctor.
    ....
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  18. #18
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    Re: welding with a heart pacemaker

    Quote Originally Posted by Mick120 View Post
    On Tuesday I was to be fitted with a 24 hour heart monitor, when I told them I welded for a living, they pulled the idea.
    Turns out, you can't even have the thing near an electric blanket, let alone a hi frequency welder.
    Rescheduled for next week.....just no welding.
    Also have to agree with Shortfuse.....go talk with your doctor.
    ....
    Yeah, Mick, I can just see it now...

    Old Joe gets a new pacemaker implanted, goes by his old welding shop, strolls in, and BLAM!!!...his pacemaker goes off-line! Old Joe (if he lives) tells the ER and doctors "well, I figgered it was OK to go back to where they were welding because the experts at the welding forum told about several guys who had no problems being around welding with THEIR pacemakers!!!!..."

    Mick, best of luck with your evaluations! Your heath and life are not replaceable. Pacemakers are a wonderful technology and if attended to properly can add many years to your life.

  19. #19
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    Re: welding with a heart pacemaker

    OK Fellahs,

    I have had a Pacemaker/defibrillater fitted and have been agonising over whether to weld up a bit of stainless exhaust pipe. My equipment is an el cheapo stick welder, which I've had for about 12 years, (it's been a cracker). It's OC voltage is about 75 AC with a maximum output of 140 amps, so really it's what you might call "***** power"..!

    I have made up a metal shield which covers the left hand side of my chest, shielding of course, the Defibrillater, and my heart completely, which will be grounded to the welder earth. The shield has been made from 22 gauge sheet steel.

    As a retired eleclectrician, I am of the opinion that this will constitute a Faraday screen, which will protect the defibrillater, it's connections, via cables to the heart, and the heart itself.

    I intend to discuss the matter with my doctor, I expect he will be evasive to say the least.

    Of course this is my take on the situation ONLY and is NOT a recommended action to be taken by others. Advice from one's doctor is essential.

    I'd be interested to hear what you guys think.

    Norm.

  20. #20
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    Re: welding with a heart pacemaker

    Quote Originally Posted by Normbourne View Post
    ...22 gauge sheet steel.

    As a retired eleclectrician, I am of the opinion that this will constitute a Faraday screen, which will protect the defibrillater, it's connections, via cables to the heart, and the heart itself...
    A faraday shield will block any electric fields, but so will your body. It's pretty conductive.
    What you have to worry about is magnetic fields and inductive currents. Your steel shield may help with this a little, but something made of mu-metal (like this sheet sold on eBay) would work thousands of times better.

    As I implied above (4 years ago), you could loosely twist your ground and lead cables around each other (say at around 1 twist per foot) to minimize the field they emanate (and if you slipped the twisted part of the wires through a grounded piece of Greenfield, it would help even more). That, and keeping the leads as far from your body as possible would go a long way to making stick welding safer, so long as you're not using HF (HF is outright verboten with a pacemaker). The same would apply to TIG, if you had a lift-arc or used scratch start.

    As for trying to stick weld a stainless exhaust; that in and of itself is misguided...
    Last edited by rlitman; 04-29-2015 at 01:23 PM.

  21. #21
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    Re: welding with a heart pacemaker

    Norm,

    TALK TO YOUR DOCTOR FIRST!! If you try to wing it with advice to the contrary from a bunch of welders, just have the phone for 911 handy, if you have enough time.

  22. #22
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    Re: welding with a heart pacemaker

    Thanks guys,

    I wasn't aware of mu metal but I must admit it sounds like a plan. I simply need to cover the previously made breastplate and I should be right.

    But before I try it, I WILL take advice from my GP.

    As regards welding stainless exhaust with a stick welder, I was always an optimist as well as being a pure novice welder, so we will see how I go.

    Anyway lads, thanks again,

    Norm.

  23. #23
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    Re: welding with a heart pacemaker

    Quote Originally Posted by Normbourne View Post
    OK Fellahs,

    I have had a Pacemaker/defibrillater fitted and have been agonising over whether to weld up a bit of stainless exhaust pipe. My equipment is an el cheapo stick welder, which I've had for about 12 years, (it's been a cracker). It's OC voltage is about 75 AC with a maximum output of 140 amps, so really it's what you might call "***** power"..!

    I have made up a metal shield which covers the left hand side of my chest, shielding of course, the Defibrillater, and my heart completely, which will be grounded to the welder earth. The shield has been made from 22 gauge sheet steel.

    As a retired eleclectrician, I am of the opinion that this will constitute a Faraday screen, which will protect the defibrillater, it's connections, via cables to the heart, and the heart itself.

    I intend to discuss the matter with my doctor, I expect he will be evasive to say the least.

    Of course this is my take on the situation ONLY and is NOT a recommended action to be taken by others. Advice from one's doctor is essential.

    I'd be interested to hear what you guys think.

    Norm.
    Unless you have that sheet steel completely surrounding your pacemaker, as in 360 degrees in the x,y, and z axis you don't have a faraday cage, there is no such thing as a faraday screen. EMI is not line of sight. You have to either be far enough away from the source that the magnitude of the signal is small enough or wear a metal suite with holes no bigger than 1/4 of the wavelength of the source frequency or susceptible frequency of the device.

  24. #24
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    Re: welding with a heart pacemaker

    Quote Originally Posted by MountaineerMetal View Post
    Unless you have that sheet steel completely surrounding your pacemaker, as in 360 degrees in the x,y, and z axis you don't have a faraday cage, there is no such thing as a faraday screen. EMI is not line of sight. You have to either be far enough away from the source that the magnitude of the signal is small enough or wear a metal suite with holes no bigger than 1/4 of the wavelength of the source frequency or susceptible frequency of the device.
    Of course your'e right and I stand corrected, I'm obviously starting to lose it, age...??

    Anyway, I've take advice from the manufacturers (Medtronic) literature, that with care, twisting the leads etc. I shouldn't experience problems providing I don't exceed 160 Amps welding current. I still intend to make a screen from mumetal and of course consult with my GP.

    Many thanks,

    Norm.

  25. #25
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    Re: welding with a heart pacemaker

    If you just need some exhaust welded up, take it to someone who does that for a living, and not stress the pace maker stuff. I would def talk to a doctor about it before attempting to weld. Why chance it? There is still plenty of "cool" things you can still do and have a pacemaker, leave the welding stuff to someone else. Just my .02 cents.
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