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Possible influences of spark discharges on cardiac pacemakers

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-10
Number of pages10
JournalHealth Physics
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2016
Publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


Exposure to spark discharges may occur beneath high voltage transmission lines when contact is initiated with a conductive object (such as a motor vehicle) with the spark discharge mediated by the ambient electric field from the line. The objective of this study was to assess whether such exposures could interfere with the normal functioning of implanted cardiac pacemakers (PMs). The experiment consisted of PMs implanted in a humansized phantom and then exposed to spark discharge through an upper extremity. A circuit was designed that produced spark discharges between two spherical electrodes fed to the phantom's left hand. The circuit was set to deliver a single discharge per half cycle (every 10 ms) about 10 ms in duration with a peak current of 1.2-1.3 A, thus simulating conditions under a 400kV power line operating at 50 Hz. Of 29 PMs acquired, all were tested in unipolar configuration and 20 in bipolar configuration with exposure consisting of 2 min of continuous exposure (one unit was exposed for 1 min). No interferencewas observed in bipolar configuration. One unit in unipolar configuration incorrectly identified ventricular extra systoles (more than 400 beats min1) for 2 s. The use of unipolar configuration in new implants is extremely rare, thus further minimizing the risk of interference with the passage of time. Replication of this study and, if safety for human subjects can be assured, future testing of human subjects is also advisable.


  • Electromagnetic Fields, Environmental Assessment, Exposure, Health Effects, Occupational

Publication forum classification

Field of science, Statistics Finland