Defibrillators and Pacemakers

For children at risk of arrhythmia or a slow heart rate, the cardiologists may suggest implanting a pacemaker or defibrillator. For babies and young children, the size of the device may appear large or uncomfortable, but children usually adapt to the size without issues. Working with a physical and occupational therapist will help your child get back on track developmentally.

After your child has had a pacemaker or defibrillator implanted, you should receive a patient guidebook and a patient identification card with your electrophysiologist’s name and contact information on it. Regular visits with both your child's cardiologists and electrophysiologist is necessary to check the system's function and battery life. During visits, the doctor will use special equipment to check whether the system has fired and how often. This information helps the doctor determine the course of treatment for your child. 

Guidelines and Precautions

Because a pacemaker and defibrillator are electronic devices, there are guidelines for maintaining the device. This information should be shared with your child.

  • Avoid strong electrical or magnetic fields, which can temporarily slow down or speed up the device. While your child is safe from low wattage electrical interference (household appliances, handheld devices, computers, light industrial tools), there are some devices that he/she should either stay away from or keep a safe distance of at least 12 inches.

  • Items to avoid contact with include: strong magnets or magnetic wands used by security, high power lines, heavy electrical or industrial equipment (power generators, welding instruments), anti-theft devices at libraries or department stores, transmitting antennas (i.e. stereo speakers from large systems, transistor radios, boom boxes), engine alternators, battery-powered cordless power tools (screwdrivers, drills) and cellular phones. If you have questions about a particular device or appliance, you should contact your electrophysiologist or cardiologist.

  • You or your child's should carry the patient ID card for emergency reference. When traveling and going through metal detector alarms, show the ID card to airport security.

  • Inform your child's physicians and dentist that your child has a pacemaker/defibrillator. With certain medical procedures, special precautions are needed with certain medical procedures involving exposure to diathermy equipment (intense heat treatment devices), electrocautery equipment (electronic device to stop bleeding), magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), and hi-energy radiation (to treat cancer).

  • Follow your physician's recommendations regarding physical activity. Contact sports or activities that may impact the area around the device should be avoided. Massaging around the surrounding area also should be avoided.

Feeding and Diet


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