What is a pacemaker?
An artificial pacemaker is a medical device that generates electrical impulses delivered by electrodes to contract the heart muscles and regulate the electrical conduction system of the heart. It can speed up a slow heart rhythm, control a fast heart rhythm, and coordinate the chambers of the heart.
What is a defibrillator?
An implantable cardioverter-defibrillator (ICD) monitors heart rhythms. If it senses dangerous rhythms, it delivers shocks. This treatment is called defibrillation. The device is implanted inside the body, able to perform cardioversion, defibrillation, and (in modern versions) pacing of the heart. The device is therefore capable of correcting most life-threatening cardiac arrhythmias, especially those that can cause sudden cardiac arrest (SCA).
An ICD can help control life-threatening arrhythmias, Most new ICDs can act as both a pacemaker and a defibrillator. Many ICDs also record the heart’s electrical patterns when there is an abnormal heartbeat. This can help the doctor plan future treatment.
An automated external defibrillator (AED) is a portable hardware device that delivers an electric shock to the patient’s heart. This shock can in many cases stop an arrhythmia and restore a normal rhythm to the heart once a patient has experienced sudden cardiac arrest (SCA). These life saving devices should be available in all public spaces.
What is involved?
Getting a pacemaker or ICD requires minor surgery. You usually need to stay in the hospital for a day or two, so your doctor can make sure that the device is working well. You will probably be back to your normal activities within a few days.
Your pacemaker or defibrillator has the ability to communicate through the skin with a programmer we have in the office. We perform this interrogation by placing a wand over your chest where the device is located. It takes only 10 or 15 minutes. Every pacemaker is checked every 6 months and Implantable Cardioverter Defibrillators (ICDs) every 3 months to test for functionality and battery life.