Pacemaker patients at risk from anti-theft systems
Doctors must warn patients with pacemakers that their devices may be disrupted by anti-theft systems used in shops, experts have said.
Many patients are unaware that electronic anti-theft systems, also known as electronic article surveillance (EAS) systems, can pose a threat to people using cardiac devices, they said.
Prolonged exposure to the in-store devices can cause pacing therapy to drop beats and cause implantable defibrillators (ICDs) to deliver inappropriate shocks, experts told the Cardiostim EHRA Europace 2016 conference in Nice, France.
It is particularly important that patients do not sit or slouch in a chair or couch in store entry areas. Some of the devices are hidden under floors, in walls and in doors, while traditional pedestal systems in doorways are often covered by advertising sleeves.
A new study, presented by Professor Robert Stevenson, of Greatbatch Medical in Santa Clarita, California, examined pacemakers against an array of anti-theft devices.
Traditional pedestal systems interfered with cardiac device functioning, especially when the devices were in prolonged close proximity, they found.
In particular, they raised concerns about patients standing in close to EAS pedestals and toddlers with pacemakers crawling over sub-floor systems.
Professor Stevenson added: "Doctors must educate patients about the potential dangers of EAS systems as many have never been warned not to lean or linger in retail store entrances.
"It is particularly important that patients do not sit or slouch in a chair or couch in store entry areas. Electronic anti-theft systems are a part of everyday life, with more than 800,000 pedestals alone installed worldwide. Patients are safe if they walk at a constant pace through the system.
"EAS gates that are obscured with advertising or goods for sale, or hidden in the floor with couches or chairs adjacent, are a serious concern and EAS manufacturers have a responsibility to ensure that retailers install them in such a way that they are visible and well marked."