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Hot Rods Welding with a heart pacemaker

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by brkile, Aug 4, 2020.

  1. brkile
    Joined: Jun 5, 2011
    Posts: 10

    from San Jose

    I can't be the only old guy in this situation . Short story: I have no symptoms but wake up in the hospital. My wife says I passed out and she took me to emergency . Next day the doc comes in and says my heart was periodically stopping. My wife gave the ok to install a pacemaker. OK, no problem, lots of people have pacemakers. Doc says there's some stuff I can't do because it may change the pacemaker settings. Don't lean over a running engine with an alternator, no problem because I don't work on new stuff anymore. No more chainsaws, no problem because I gave up heating my house with wood. No more electric welding. WAIT A MINUTE !! No MIG, TIG, stick or plasma. I've been welding my whole life and finally got to the point where I have time, a few bucks to afford some good stuff and some nice project cars. Basically, everything I do involves welding.
    I'm looking for any studies on the effect of electric welding on a heart pacemaker. I have looked around on the internet and as usual get lots of differing ideas. Some have suggested that welding won't affect a pacemaker if its under 120 amps, or you weave the ground strap with the stinger cable or if you stay out of the imaginary line between the power source and the torch or if you stay 2 feet away from the weld site (my arms aren't that long). I'm not looking for medical advice here, I'm looking for any articles or studies about this subject that I can talk to my Dr. about. Thanks
    VANDENPLAS likes this.
  2. Blue One
    Joined: Feb 6, 2010
    Posts: 10,677

    Blue One
    from Alberta

    There are multiple threads discussing that subject.
    Read away[node]=5
    VANDENPLAS likes this.
  3. DDDenny
    Joined: Feb 6, 2015
    Posts: 13,785

    from oregon

    That's the power of the HAMB right there!
    By the way, will medicare pay for me to get one of them new fangled(and expensive) auto darkening welding helmets?
    VANDENPLAS likes this.
  4. patterg2003
    Joined: Sep 21, 2014
    Posts: 622


    Baron, Truck64 and kidcampbell71 like this.

  5. alchemy
    Joined: Sep 27, 2002
    Posts: 15,868


    They still make oxygen and acetylene.
  6. Flathead Dave
    Joined: Mar 21, 2014
    Posts: 2,983

    Flathead Dave
    from So. Cal.

    I know that I would go with what the doctor says.
    Remember when pacemakers and microwaves couldn't be used together and now they can?
    VANDENPLAS likes this.
  7. razoo lew
    Joined: Apr 11, 2017
    Posts: 416

    razoo lew
    from Calgary

    My best source of information was from the website of the manufacturer of my device. For what it is worth, they specify a max of 160 amps, and the previous precautions regarding cable length and grounding.
    VANDENPLAS likes this.
  8. Bandit Billy
    Joined: Sep 16, 2014
    Posts: 6,876

    Bandit Billy

    Hambfucious say; "Man who electric-weld with pace-maker - make his bead and lie in it."
  9. TagMan
    Joined: Dec 12, 2002
    Posts: 6,049


    Come to find out, hearts are kind of necessary to sustain life, wwhyo knew ?? I believe if my doctor said to stay away from electric welding or it might kill me after sticking a pacemaker in me, I guess I'd stay away from MIG & TIG and maybe everything else, including the f'n garage door opener remote !
    VANDENPLAS and Bandit Billy like this.
  10. Truck64
    Joined: Oct 18, 2015
    Posts: 4,147

    from Ioway

    All the more reason to stick with points & condenser.

    And a shot of Marvel's in the morning, along with yer Wheaties. Keeps the valves from sticking you know.

    Get well soon!
    Hnstray likes this.
  11. I think it all has to do with magnetic fields affecting the pacemaker. The info I've gotten from the doc is at times conflicting. I think specific questions should be directed to manufacturer.
    The manufacturer gives me a tune up once a year.
    I have been told to never carry cell phone (on or off) in my shirt pocket.

    Hnstray likes this.
  12. BJR
    Joined: Mar 11, 2005
    Posts: 6,522


    I never realized you could weld with a pacemaker. I didn't think they put out enough voltage to weld with.:D
  13. southcross2631
    Joined: Jan 20, 2013
    Posts: 4,010


    I cracked my pacemaker and couldn't get my welder to strike an arc to fix it no good grounds.:rolleyes:
    Seriously you need to listen to the doctor as he is trying to cover his ass. Contact the manufacturer who will really be trying to cover their ass.
    I was told I needed open heart surgery 7 years ago. My heart doctor just told me 2 weeks ago they are amazed at my EKG's. He said you are a prime candidate for a valve job ,but they like to keep the original ones in there as long as possible .
  14. 1946caddy
    Joined: Dec 18, 2013
    Posts: 1,705

    from washington

    I had a pacemaker put in November of last year and have stick welded, Mig welded both short arc and spray, used a plasma cutter and used a scratch start Tig without Hi frequency without any ill effects. I don't weld while placing myself between the welding machine and the arc and I make sure to have the ground as close to the arc as possible.
    My pacemaker is monitored through my cell phone and they have reported zero effects from my welding.
    kidcampbell71, '51 Norm and vtx1800 like this.
  15. SEAAIRE354
    Joined: Sep 7, 2015
    Posts: 191


    I didn’t read through all the thread links and if this was mentioned I apologize. I was always led to believe that hi frequency was the issue with pacemakers. My brother in law had one installed and he would call me if he was coming to my shop incase I was tig welding.

    Sent from my iPad using The H.A.M.B. mobile app
    kidcampbell71 likes this.
  16. steeltappet
    Joined: Jan 3, 2010
    Posts: 56

    from PA

    Contact the manufacturer for your pacer. You should be able to get info from a technician that understands welding equipment. I believe the electro-magnetic field from the arc and/or the machine can temporarily shut off the pacemaker.
    Chains saws are probably worse than any welding equipment but in a different way. I think gas powered weed trimmers are similar. In my first monitoring session, they asked what happened at the exact day and time i used a chainsaw. I haven't touched a gas-power chain saw since.
    swade41 likes this.
  17. Confucious never said that.png
    Oh, different guy.
    Seriously though as others have directed. I would consult the manufacturer of your device as they would be the expert.
  18. junkman8888
    Joined: Jan 28, 2009
    Posts: 501


    I wonder if one of those lead aprons they make you wear when you get your teeth X-rayed would dampen the magnetic field the welder puts out? Also, what is the issue with using a chain saw when you have a pacemaker?
    kidcampbell71 and Hnstray like this.
  19. May I throw in my 2¢? I'm on my 2nd pacemaker. I guess I'm hard on them or something. I've done a lot of research on the subject, plus input from my cardiologist. His comments were that my pacemaker would mistake the signals of the TIG welder for that of my heart and start making compensations so do not use a TIG welder. I definitely didn't want that. He's the professional, not me! On the other hand, I found out thru research, I can use the MIG welder safely by using "Universal Safety Precautions". This means set the welding unit itself off a little ways from you, wrap the 2 cables together (like a vine) and then place the ground close to the place where the weld is taking place. Oh, and DO NOT DRAPE THE CABLES OVER YOUR BODY while welding, preferably re-route them around the opposite side from you.
    kidcampbell71 and Hnstray like this.
  20. ART 323436
    Joined: Jun 3, 2009
    Posts: 13

    ART 323436
    from Oakley ca

  21. ART 323436
    Joined: Jun 3, 2009
    Posts: 13

    ART 323436
    from Oakley ca

    I got a pacemaker/ defibrillator 5 years ago and then found out I wasn’t supposed to weld anymore . I asked all the questions and heard the same answers . Yesterday I was tiging at 110 amps and I grounded out , got a good shock but it didn’t trigger my unit . All I can say is be prepared Phone in your pocket because it’s hard to hold a Hot Rodder down .
  22. Flathead Dave
    Joined: Mar 21, 2014
    Posts: 2,983

    Flathead Dave
    from So. Cal.

    The heart runs on electricity. Watch a AFIB Ablation procedure. It's very, very interesting to see.
    I had it done in November 2019.
    Had 3 planned Cardioversions in Sept. 2019.
    The heart is no joke.
    If my Doc tells me not to weld, I don't weld.
    Last edited: Aug 5, 2020
  23. TrailerTrashToo
    Joined: Jun 20, 2018
    Posts: 722


    Long term defibrillator ("Jump start box") user and retired communications tester. Triggering your unit is not the real problem, disabling the unit is the worry, because it may no longer correctly sense a fatal change in your heart rhythm.

    Those wires that go from the unit to your heart sense tiny voltages in your heart. Those wires are also antennas and pickup strong electric signals (electromagnetic radiation) from the welding arc. Strong electromagnetic radiation "might" burn out the receiver at the unit end of those wires. Modern technology has made great strides in protecting the unit from these signals - that is why we no longer worry about microwave ovens.

    That arc is strong enough to melt metal, ain't no small thing.

    This electromagnetic radiation looses strength as the square of the distance from the arc source (and also the welding cables). Basically, you are betting that you know more than the electrical engineers - I am an electrical engineer - Even played with some lightning protection circuits - I have no idea how well the unit handles large welding noise. When in the welding area, I stand back many feet from the equipment.
    Flathead Dave and G-son like this.
  24. RJP
    Joined: Oct 5, 2005
    Posts: 1,654

    from PNW

    Had mine put in 5yrs ago. Doc said no welding, so I don't weld. Solved my problem with fabrication by teaching the kid that snuck in my shop and kinda adopted me, the finer points of welding. Nowadays I just point, explain, inspect, then point to the grinder and hand him the helmet again. He's gotten better over the years, and gets the grinder and helmet without me telling him. I'm doing a bi-plane now so I still get my welding fix. I find gas welding very relaxing and so does my pacemaker.
    warbird1, Flathead Dave and charleyw like this.
  25. 1946caddy
    Joined: Dec 18, 2013
    Posts: 1,705

    from washington

    I haven't had any problems with Tig on mild steel but could understand it being a problem with high frequency and especially pulse. I'm not one of those cowboys like on TV that Tigs without gloves. I also start my arc on the grounded metal. I was told that the pacemaker will reset itself in a millisecond and to stop if I feel strange or light headed which hasn't happened .
    TrailerTrashToo likes this.
  26. krylon32
    Joined: Jan 29, 2006
    Posts: 6,633

    Alliance Vendor
    from Nebraska

    I went thru all of this about 1 1/2 years ago. I had a combo pacemaker/defibrillator installed and was initially told no welding. I did my research and the company that made my unit sent a rep to adjust mine and he said I would have no problem tig welding as long as I kept it under 160 amps. I was also told the same thing by the doctor who installed the unit. He recommended I don't use my plasma cutter and be careful with my mig. Since having the unit installed I've fabbed a dozen or more chassis. I only tack the chassis together then a certified tig welder comes in and finish welds the frames. So far so good.
    sidevalve8ba and kidcampbell71 like this.
  27. clem
    Joined: Dec 20, 2006
    Posts: 2,999


    OP hasn’t replied to this thread,.............I hope his welding went alright.............
  28. Hey guys, glad to see a lot of positive feed back and not ripping into each other. A funny little story about mine, but it wasn't funny at the time. On an X-ray, it shows my cables are draped over to my right side where they are attached to my pacemaker since I'm left handed. (standard procedure) Going thru Security at the airport on day, the guard physically yanked me out of line and told me to take off my necklace. We got into a loud argument. I kept insisting, I didn't have on a necklace. This went on for several minutes. Then it dawned on me, "Oh I have a pacemaker and it's on my right side." He was not a happy camper with me. He shoved me back in line. Have a nice day officer! No apology!
  29. brkile
    Joined: Jun 5, 2011
    Posts: 10

    from San Jose

    I appreciate all the comments and dialog about this issue. I think I'm going to dust off my oxygen/acetylene skills and stick with that. I started welding with A/O and I guess I'll end up with it. My son only lives about 2 miles away and he's a way better welder than I am, he can still see up close. Again, thanks for all the comments and ideas....
  30. B.SUTTON
    Joined: Feb 8, 2007
    Posts: 48

    from Peoria, IL

    I’ve had a pacemaker since 1985 - I was 5 years old. I grew up hearing a lot of cautions and limitations regarding EMF radiation and interference with pacemaker function (i.e. microwaves). Over the last few decades, there have been a lot of advancements in not only medical device technology, but also the design of equipment that can affect those devices (again, microwaves are a good example). However, it’s been my experience that some cardiologists and even some electrophysiologists aren’t necessarily well versed on the EMF radiation output of pieces of equipment related to our hobby and how those levels relate to the limits of specific medical devices. Those limits most likely vary between devices. Also, the severity of a device malfunction varies depending upon medical condition and how the device controls that condition.

    My suggestion, if you don’t feel that you are getting a well explained reason for your limitations based on information specific to your device and condition, is to ask for the contact information or an appointment with the device manufacturer rep. I think that there is typically a rep that works directly with a hospital or hospitals in a local region and is very much “hands-on.” During my last pacemaker replacement (in Feb of this year), there was a Medtronic rep present in the operating room. He set up the functional parameters of my device and then tested the function once the surgeon had implanted it. This is the kind of guy you want to talk to. He is knowledgeable about both the medical and device end of things. He should be able to tell you what your limitations are and why .

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