Category Archives: pacemakers

Can the upcoming solar storm turn your pacemaker into a killer inside you?

It has been predicted that today (Febr. 17, 2011) one of the largest solar storms in years will reach the earth and may interfere with sensitive electronic equipment, such as GPS receivers in cars and PDAs. Also air traffic and power grids may suffer from this kind of interference.

 Solar Storm 

Solar storms, also called geomagnetic storms, are caused by solar coronal mass ejections and modify the electromagnetic fields in the ionosphere, magnetosphere and heliosphere. They usually last only one or two days and can cause auroras further away from the poles than usually. According to Wikipedia, "On March 13, 1989 a severe geomagnetic storm caused the collapse of the Hydro-Québec power grid in a matter of seconds as equipment protection relays tripped in a cascading sequence of events. Six million people were left without power for nine hours, with significant economic loss."

So how dangerous are these solar storms for life-supporting devices like pacemakers and neurostimulators? In order to answer this question, we need to understand the physical and electrical effects of solar storms. Solar storms induce fluctuations in the Earth’s magnetic field. These fluctuations, in turn, can induce currents in large electrically conducting structures, such as power grids and metal pipelines, leading to damaged transformers and corrosion. Solar storms also influence the electrical currents in the magnetosphere and the ionosphere and thereby affect wireless communication that propagates through them.

So my conclusion: as long as you do not use your shortwave radio or CB set to control your implantable device remotely and you do not power it from the mains, you’re safe. Ain’t that a relief?