Can You Weld if You Have a Pacemaker? The Scientific Answer

Working with metal parts, flames, and sparks can be a gratifying task, which is why many people go into welding – as a career or as a hobby. Welding is classified by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) as “hot work,” which refers to spark and heat-producing activity. 

Welding can be a high-risk activity for anyone with a pacemaker or heart device. But depending on the symptoms and heart condition, welding equipment will not interfere with the normal functioning of your pacemaker as long as you follow medical and safety precautions

If you follow the necessary precautions, you can weld even if you have a pacemaker. It is important to have a general grasp of the welding process and how it can impact not just your device but your overall health. Keep reading to learn more important information about how welding could affect your pacemaker.

How Welding Can Interfere With Your Pacemaker

There are many commonplace devices that can disrupt the normal functioning of your pacemaker, such as:

  • Electronic article surveillance systems (EAS) 
  • Cell phones 
  • Radios
  • Mp3 players 

While the key components of welding are metal, sparks, and flames, electrical currents are actually integral to arc welding work. 

Whether you are welding as your profession or if you have a welding station in your garage, there are several ways in which it may interfere with your pacemaker. 

The electrical currents, or electromagnetic energy, involved in arc welding work, specifically, can interfere with your pacemaker or defibrillator. 

Arc welding is the most widely used process in many industries. This process uses electricity to produce the heat that is necessary for melding and joining different metal pieces together. According to Boston Scientific, electromagnetic energy is generated by arc welders used in the welding process. 

Arc welding uses heat produced by an electric charge between two electrodes, one is a positive voltage contained in the welding rod, and the other is a negative voltage in the base material. The electromagnetic energy produced by the arc welding process can have a: 

  • Voltage that is anywhere between eight and 40 
  • Current between five and 1,000 amps 

This electrical activity involved in arc welding can keep your pacemaker from working properly, which can be a dangerous event if you need to constantly monitor your heart rate and activity. 

While this should not deter you from engaging in welding activity, you need to take important precautions to ensure the normal functioning of your heart device. After all, your overall health is paramount. 

What Safety Precautions Should You Take If You Are Welding 

Although there are some possible concerns, the electrical process involved in arc welding should not deter you from welding work. There are several precautions that can be taken to ensure the normal functioning of your pacemaker or heart device and the protection of your overall health. One of the first things you should do is to consult your heart doctor to understand the degree of the risk to your pacemaker and overall health.

If your heart doctor determines that welding work will not pose any serious risk to your health, you should take the following precautions: 

  • One of the most recommended precautions is to limit welding to 160 amps. Welding currents that are above the 160-amp limit can interfere with your pacemaker. 
  • Others recommend an amp-limit as low as 130. In any case, you need to be extra careful about any activity or work involving electrical currents. 
  • Medtronic also strongly recommends that you should keep the welding arc at least 2 feet away from your pacemaker. 
  • Similarly, you should maintain a distance between welding cables and units and your heart device – at least 5 feet away from your immediate work area
  • Your work area should be ample and dry, allowing for movement and firm footing. 
  • In addition to keeping your work area dry and spacious, you should wear appropriate gloves and shoes at all times

It is important to minimize chances of trips and falls as well as any direct contact with welding equipment in your vicinity. 

If necessary, you should consult someone who understands welding activity and who can help you set up your work area in a way that maximizes safety. It also helps to have a basic understanding of how your pacemaker works since different types of pacemakers are optimized for specific symptoms and heart conditions.

In sum, the more proactive you are in keeping your work area safe and in making sure that you know the proper methods and procedures involved in welding, the safer you will be. 

Note: There are some medical practitioners who advise against welding or any other activity involving electrical currents. 

What To Do If Your Pacemaker Stops Working Properly

As we mentioned earlier, the electromagnetic activity from devices, including welding equipment, can interfere with the proper functioning of your pacemaker. Electromagnetic interference can prevent your pacemaker from detecting or sensing abnormal heart activity. 

It is impossible to be fastidious in your observance of the proper welding every single time, so it is a good idea to plan for emergencies. In particular, you need to familiarize yourself with the right course of action in the event of pacemaker interference or failure. 

If your pacemaker stops working, you may be unaware of abnormal heart activity, which can put you dangerous situation if your heart condition needs to be continuously monitored. According to Fairview, you should be vigilant for the following symptoms if your heart device is not working properly:

  • Dizziness and lightheadedness 
  • Erratic heart rate
  • Fainting 
  • Heart palpitations 
  • Labored breathing 
  • Muscle twitching 

First and foremost, you should seek medical attention immediately. If you are experiencing these symptoms, this could mean that your heart device was not able to sense abnormal activity and alert you to it in a timely manner. 

Thankfully, in most cases, electromagnetic interference will not cause any permanent damage to your pacemaker or reset it. Rather, the main issue is that electromagnetic energy will cause your device to behave erratically. 


Since the effects of electromagnetic energy produced in the welding process can be minimized, a pacemaker or heart device should not keep you from welding. Keeping a dry and spacious work area and a distance between your heart device and welding equipment will reduce interference. Please be sure to consult your heart doctor before you engage in any activity that even has a slight chance of impacting your heart device.

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