Airport security no threat to pacemakers

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A new study from the German Heart Center in Munich should ease the minds of air travelers with pacemakers or implantable cardioverter-defibrillators (ICDs). The researchers found that undergoing metal detector security screenings did not result in any functional abnormalities in such devices. In an office-based experiment, 388 participants with either a pacemaker or ICD were swiped with a metal detector at its highest setting for at least 30 seconds, which is ten times longer than the average airport security screening. No ECG abnormalities or sensing problems with the devices were reported.

Published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, the study covered 73 percent of the pacemakers and 76 percent of the ICDs on the market over the past decade, though some models were represented by only a single device in a single patient.

ACSH's Dr. Gilbert Ross sums up the study s results nicely: After fairly extensive lab testing, the evidence is strong that airport scanners do not pose a health threat to people with pacemakers or ICDs.