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Pacemaker Safety

Published: January 1, 2009

Two questions, if you please. I have an Adapta DR pacemaker. May I use an electric adjustable bed with optional head and foot massage? And, will the pulsations of a bath spa harm the pacemaker and a human valve replacement? Thank you kindly.

These are excellent questions to also discuss with the doctor who implanted your pacemaker. I may be unaware of things about your medical condition that may make using your electric bed/massager or spa dangerous to you. Please talk to your doctor before proceeding with these activities.

My answers apply to the Adapta DR pacemaker and not necessarily to other types of pacemakers. Electric massage beds produce mechanical vibrations that may activate a special sensor in your pacemaker that detects motion. This can fool the pacemaker into “thinking” you are engaged in some sort of physical activity and require a faster heart rate. Consequently, the discharge rate of the pacemaker can increase. If this is a problem, your doctor can turn off the rate-responsive function of the pacemaker. Massage from your electrical bed and pulsations from a bath spa should never be applied directly over the pacemaker because that can contribute to mechanical damage of the device or leads. The pressure jets can also fool your pacemaker into thinking you are being physically active, and trigger a faster pacemaker rate. You can avoid this response by not allowing the pressure jet to directly hit the pacemaker area. The pulsations will not affect the valve replacement. Rarely, electrical current leaking into spas from faulty lights and motors can affect pacemaker function. Finally, keep the pacemaker at least six inches from all motors and magnets, either as a part of your bed or in the spa. If you have any unusual symptoms, turn off the bed or remove yourself from the spa and consult with your doctor. All in all, these are very simple things to consider and/or avoid, and you should be able to enjoy your bed and bath without a problem.

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