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Pacemaker and Keyless access, possible health problem

Ran across this warning in my owner’s manual (Subaru Forester). Don’t have a pacemaker, but I thought to make this warning more public, for those who do.

Keyless access with push-button start system (if equipped)

If you wear an implanted pacemaker or an implanted defibrillator, stay at least 8.7 in (22 cm) away from the transmitting antennas installed on the vehicle.

The radio waves from the transmitting antennas on the vehicle could adversely affect the operation of implanted pacemakers and implanted defibrillators.

The map (which took some searching to find) shows 6 antennae scattered through the interior and exterior. I can just see someone with this (poorly drawn) map and a ruler trying to find a safe zone to sit in the car… sure…

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Bug report: in the above post, I had three paragraphs set in italics, and the preview showed them that way, but the actual post only has the first paragraph in italics.

I’ve also wondered about cellphones, bluetooth and wi-fi affecting pacemakers.

Wi-fi uses the radio frequency of 5Ghz and 2.4 Ghz, Bluetooth uses 2.4 Ghz, pretty much the same as a microwave oven. Car radar sensors also use 2.4 Ghz. So if your pacemaker is sensitive to microwave ovens as many are, that might be a bad thing for you.

Cell phones don’t use the same frequencies, they use 824 to 896 Mhz, 890-960 Mhz, 1710-1755 Mhz, and 2.1 Ghz 2.1Ghz is close, maybe close enough.

I’ve got a friend with one and he uses his phone all the time. In fact they even check his heart over the internet. Microwave ovens are an issue though. Rest assured though, the docs go over the do’s and don’ts with a pacemaker before they let you go.


manual says: Radio frequency: 134 kHz

This is so low, I doubt it could bother a pacemaker, but I’m no expert on them.

I’ve had an implanted pacemaker since 2006, and these warnings used to freak me out. Fortunately, modern pacemakers don’t use the same frequencies as these devices. Besides, the worst thing that can happen if a radio signal does interfere with your pacemaker is that it might not work until you get away from the signal, but mine only kicks in 8-12% of the time, usually while I’m sleeping. My pacemaker only kicks in if my heart rate drops below 50 BPM.

At first, when I got my pacemaker and read the warnings, I wanted to get rid of everything wireless in my home, the wifi, cordless phones, etc., but I’ve been using bluetooth, cell phones, keyless entry and wifi without any problems for 11 years.

Those warnings are all about CYA, and they’re relics from when Pacemaker technology was in its infancy. Remember all those “Warning: Microwave oven in use” signs? There’s a reason they don’t have to post those anymore.


It’s conceivable that interference could cause the pacemaker to output extra pulses, causing a rapid or erratic heartbeat.

It’s not really a pulse that a pacemaker sends to your heart (at least I wouldn’t use that word to describe it). The signal a pacemaker sends to your heart mimics the signal your brain sends to your heart, telling it to beat. You might be thinking of an implanted defibrillator, and both pacemakers and defibrillators have safeguards that prevent this.