Pacemakers ICD’s and the Airport – Flying with a Cardiac Device

Pacemakers ICD’s and the Airport – Flying with a Cardiac Device!

Airports Pacemakers and ICD's
I often get asked “Can I fly?” by patients with Pacemakers and ICD’s.

From a pacemaker and ICD point of view the answer is YES. There is no common interaction between Pacemakers and ICD’s that mean that you cannot fly. So the real question is for your Doctors. Can you fly is a question for the doctor really as you need to know if you have a clinical risk! So, if you are planning to fly and you have a cardiac device you should always check with your doctor before hand! 
Most enquiries revolve around airport security and the security gates that you have to walk through to make sure you don’t have anything on you that could pose a security risk to yourself, others or the plane.
I hear most technicians and patients state that you CANNOT go through these gates because it may affect the workings of your device (would be a very inconvenient place to faint or be shocked!) and that is very much the guidance that we give. Despite there having been multiple tests on the affect of these gates on Pacemakers and ICDs and there have been ZERO significant findings. 
So here are the real reasons why you shouldn’t use the Gates. 
Firstly because they do use magnets and produce Electromagnetic Interference that we know could affect a cardiac device – so why take a risk.
The second reason is incredibly obvious once it has been pointed out. What will Airport Security learn from putting you through a security gate? That you have something metal on (in) your person… well you have been trying to tell them that… you even showed them your card! (Some people just won’t listen). So the wand is a much better bet, this will tell airport security that you have nothing anywhere else… but you do have something metal right where your pacemaker should be. Don’t use the wand over the device! 
Perfect you have been given the all clear to proceed to the departures lounge and abuse your credit card – after all you definitely need some new Ray-bans for the glorious British summer 😉
ALSO!
ALWAYS remember your Pacemaker ID Card when you travel abroad for two reasons. Firstly this allows you to go through airport security without to much resistance (in theory) and secondly because pacemakers are pretty well universal in settings and functionality. So if you have an event whilst on holiday the pacemaker department at the local health centre will be able to aid you more swiftly if you have this information to hand! I guess I could mention your travel insurance at this point but I am sure you all know to declare any outstanding health conditions (which includes a Pacemaker or ICD) to your travel insurance provider or this may be invalid and then you will be wishing you hadn’t splurged on those expensive Ray-Bans.

A complete explanation of airports, pacemakers and more is available in the book Pacemakers Made Easy by Carl Robinson.

Right Time for Lunch 
Happy flying!
Cardiac Technician

Image courtesy of idea go / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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