Is it safe to weld with a pacemaker?


We recently received a call at HQ from a customer that wanted to know if there were any limitations to welding for individuals with a pacemaker or implanted defibrillator, and if it is safe to weld with a pacemaker.  I had never thought about it before and I didn’t know the answer.  I decided to research it and share my findings with all of our readers and customers here on the blog.  Since this is an important issue that affects many men and women, we thought we’d post this blog both here and on the Joe Welder blog.

Conclusion and Disclaimer

Since this is a very serious medical issue and we are not very serious medical people, we will post the most important conclusion of this blog post right up front: consult your doctor!  Only your heart doctor can tell you what activities are dangerous, and how you should handle them.  Welding is an activity that is considered dangerous, so read up on the resources we provide below, do your own research, and most importantly, call your doc!  We provide resources and information that we’ve found in our research, but this is no replacement for your doctor’s expertise.  They didn’t spend years in medical school for nothing.

Electromagnetic Energy

The primary concern when welding with a pacemaker or defibrillator is the high electromagnetic (EM) energy created by the welding machine.  This electromagnetic energy can cause your pacemaker to continuously pace the heart, which can cause an irregular heart rate if your heart is already beating fine on its own.  On the other hand, the spike in EM energy when spot welding or starting a bead can cause a pacemaker to pause temporarily if it were pacing your heart.  Both of these situations are not good.  Implanted defibrillators could detect the EM energy from the welder as a fast heart rhythm, causing it to deliver shock (yikes!).

Interestingly, according to medtronic, the electromagnetic field created by a welding machine won’t cause any permanent damage or re-programming to your pacemaker or implanted defibrillator.  The primary concern is how these devices behave in the presence of the intense electromagnetic energy.  Any potential effects will end when the welding is stopped or turned off.

Another point to note is that Oxy-Fuel welding does not create an electromagnetic field, so it is safe to use with an implanted pacemaker or defibrillator.

How Can I Reduce Risk While Welding With A Pacemaker?

Here’s a good list of precautions that we found from Medtronic:

  • Limit welding current to less than 120 amps
  • Work in a dry area with dry gloves and shoes
  • Maintain a 2 foot distance between the welding arc and the heart device
  • Keep the welding cables close together (twist them together if possible) and as far away as possible from your heart device
  • Place the welding machine as far away as possible, and at least 5 feet away from your work area
  • Wait several seconds between attempts when having difficulty starting a weld (don’t rapidly pulse the welder)
  • Work in an area that offers firm footing and plenty of room for movement
  • Work with an informed person that understands what you’re dealing with
  • Immediately stop welding and step away from the area if you start to feel lightheaded, dizzy, or you believe your implantable defibrillator has delivered a shock




American Heart Association

Pacemaker Club discussion on the topic




19 comments on “Is it safe to weld with a pacemaker?”:

  1. Kizzy

    How would you go about setting this idea up?
    I have a pacemaker (not a defibrillator) and want to spot weld my jewellery.

  2. Robert

    I have had my pacemaker for 10 years, so new models have improved. I was welding on my excavator bucket with my whip draped over my shoulders to ease the weight, used 120-130amp on my old reliable Lincoln rotary unit. I did not have the cables twisted (didn’t know it was helpful), but quite a ways away from the welder. At the end of the welding I went inside, felt funny, and hooked up my electrical heart pulse monitor. It was all over the place; irregular, weak, strong, pacing etc. After about 3 minutes everything settled down and returned to normal.
    I will twist my cables together this morning!! I was sitting in between the two cables! Maybe that was it.

    1. Editor

      This is great info, Robert.

      We’re obviously sorry you experienced a bit of difficulty but it’s good to know that you waited to chill out and aren’t afraid to try it again!

  3. mike

    when welding jewelry i can not welding more than 120 amperes, according to what that has been printed
    everything is good to go.

  4. George

    I’d like to hear from the blokes who died while attempting to weld and ask them what they did different …comments are too biased for me to return to Boilermaking just yet.

    1. Editor


      Honestly, that is a really good point to make. To be able to understand what happened and how we can avoid it is something we all should try to accomplish.

  5. Mark

    I have a CRTD (Cardiac Re-synchronisation Therapy & Defibrillator) from Boston Scientific. All my research and questioning has resulted in essentially the same answer, No, I shouldn’t weld! As has already been said, and from all my own questioning of cardiac specialists etc, the device can potentially detect the electrical noise etc from the welding process and interpret it as an abnormal heart rhythm. In this situation the device will attempt to pace the heart based on its misinterpretation of the input from the welder and ultimately may even attempt defibrillation. I sadly, won’t be welding anytime soon!

  6. kevin

    I just received my pacemaker / defibrillator yesterday . Nothing was mentioned about not being able to weld until I was on the table . 28 years as iron worker / certified welder and I never thought about this . I weld daily in my fab shop and need any and all input . HELP !!!

    1. Shawn

      looks like you’ll need to find other work maybe in the same field. I’m looking at getting a pacemaker/defibrillator on Oct24.
      I’m a plumber/pipefitter and have accepted the changes. There’s much more to pipefitting than fitting one on one with a welder. Layout, hangers. rigging etc. Being in a union helps too. They’ll pit me where i can be most useful.
      How hard would it be for you to reinvent yourself…..maybe add a different skillset to your resume

  7. Irimana

    Would love to weld since pacemaker inserted not heavy welding home handyman stuff at home and men’s shed if protected with the right ppe. Feedback

    1. Editor

      I wish I knew the answer to that question. I think it’s best to check with your doctor or a medical professional who understands magnetic interference on that topic.

    1. Editor

      Duane: We hate to speculate on such an important question. I would recommend asking your doctor and / or looking the plasma cutter manual for more info. Stay safe!

    1. Homer

      Welding with batteries same as DC welding. Only you are really far from welding machine. Do IMHO yes it would have same effect. Field still being built up in cables and the arc is still produced. Good news is you’re really far from welding machine.

  8. Homer

    With the popularity of the MRI machine there have been many improvements done on implanted devices. My father basically gave up after his implant. Since he could no longer weld he just sat in a chair and waited to die. I would suggest BEFORE getting and implant do some research. Remember Drs treat more from what insurance allows and what protects them from lawyers than your needs. Also they have connections with specific manufacturers. Possible find a manufacturer that makes a safe one and then find a doctor that uses that brand.
    This is my opinion and I am not accussing any one of any false or illegal acts.


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