Recent Blog Articles
Resistance bands: 3 great ways to build upper body strength
American Heart Association issues statement on cardiovascular side effects from hormonal therapy for prostate cancer
More movement, better memory
Improving access to hearing aids
Can mindfulness change your brain?
Five lifestyle factors that can help prevent gastroesophageal reflux disease
Transient ischemic attacks: Varied symptoms, all important
5 inflammation-fighting food swaps
Is IBD an underrecognized health problem in minority groups?
Sickle cell disease in newborns and children: What families should know and do
Follow-up: Pacemakers and MRIs
Pacemakers and MRIs. In the April 2006 Harvard Heart Letter, we described how MRIs can damage pacemakers and implantable cardioverter/defibrillators (ICDs). A team from Johns Hopkins Hospital says that people with certain makes and models of pacemakers and ICDs can safely have an MRI as long as proper precautions are taken. The safety protocol the Hopkins team tested included temporarily reprogramming implanted devices for the duration of the MRI, turning off defibrillators' shock function, reducing the energy of the MRI, continuous monitoring with an electrocardiogram during the scan, and making sure that equipment for restarting the heart and performing CPR were immediately available. The researchers can vouch only for the 24 pacemaker and ICD models they tested. (A list of the models is available at health.harvard.edu/109.) The Hopkins researchers also said that MRIs are appropriate only for people with newer pacemakers (made after 1996) or defibrillators (made after 2000) since they are smaller, have better protection against MRI energy, and contain less magnetic metal.
An editorial on the study by two FDA experts on pacemakers and MRIs indicated that the benefits of a scan may outweigh the risks to the pacemaker or ICD for people in urgent need of an MRI for diagnosing brain cancer, detecting stroke, or planning surgery. But they stressed that this study does not give a green light for MRIs in everyone with a pacemaker or ICD. (Circulation, September 19, 2006)
To continue reading this article, you must log in.
Subscribe to Harvard Health Online for immediate access to health news and information from Harvard Medical School.
- Research health conditions
- Check your symptoms
- Prepare for a doctor's visit or test
- Find the best treatments and procedures for you
- Explore options for better nutrition and exercise
I'd like to receive access to Harvard Health Online for only $4.99 a month.Sign Me Up
Already a member? Login ».
As a service to our readers, Harvard Health Publishing provides access to our library of archived content. Please note the date of last review or update on all articles. No content on this site, regardless of date, should ever be used as a substitute for direct medical advice from your doctor or other qualified clinician.