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IN A HEARTBEAT

A pacemaker is a small electronic device that stimulates the human heart to beat. Those being implanted today are smaller and lighter than their predecessors and implants have become almost routine. But there is a good deal of misinformation about these modern heart miracles. Experts at the Mayo Clinic list these myths and realities about pacemakers:

The federal Food and Drug Administration says there's no need to worry about a pacemaker being affected by the Y2K computer bug. Pacemakers don't rely on a programmed date to function.

There's no need to avoid cellular phones if you have a pacemaker. It's best, however, to keep the activated phone at your ear -- not hold it over your chest -- and use the ear farther from the implant.

Microwave ovens, TV transmitters, remote controls, CB radios, electric blankets, shavers and heating pads do not impair the functioning of pacemakers.

Prolonged exposure to electronic surveillance systems and equipment can interrupt proper pacemaker function.

Arc welders, power-generating equipment and powerful magnets such as those used in magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) can inhibit pacemaker function.

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