Implantation of a Defibrillator is a common treatment for life-threatening cardiac dysrhythmias, ventricular fibrillation, and pulseless ventricular tachycardia. Defibrillation consists of delivering a therapeutic dose of electrical energy to the affected heart with a device called a defibrillator. This depolarizes a critical mass of the heart muscle, terminates the dysrhythmia, and allows normal sinus rhythm to be reestablished by the body’s natural pacemaker in the sinoatrial node of the heart. Defibrillators can be external, transvenous, or implanted, depending on the type of device used or needed.
What is an Implantable Cardioverter Defibrillator (ICD)?
An ICD is a battery-powered device placed under the skin that keeps track of your heart rate and resets it in the event of cardiac arrest. Thin wires connect the ICD to your heart. If an abnormal heart rhythm is detected, the device will deliver an electric shock to restore a normal heartbeat in order to stop your heart from beating chaotically and dangerously.
Patients with arrhythmias such as ventricular tachycardia (dangerously fast heartbeat), ventricular fibrillation (erratic heartbeat) often derive benefits from an ICD.
From the American Heart Association
ICDs are useful in preventing sudden death in patients with known, sustained ventricular tachycardia or fibrillation (View an animation of an ICD). Studies have shown ICDs to have a role in preventing cardiac arrest in high-risk patients who haven’t had, but are at risk for, life-threatening ventricular arrhythmias.
Newer-generation ICDs may have a dual function which includes the ability to serve as a pacemaker. The pacemaker feature would stimulate the heart to beat if the heart rate is detected to be too slow.
A pacemaker is a small device that’s placed in the chest or abdomen to help control abnormal heart rhythms. This device uses electrical pulses to prompt the heart to beat at a normal rate. Pacemakers are used to treat arrhythmias. Arrhythmias are problems with the rate or rhythm of the heartbeat. During an arrhythmia, the heart can beat too fast, too slow, or irregularly.
During an arrhythmia, the heart may not be able to pump enough blood to the body. This can cause symptoms such as fatigue (tiredness), shortness of breath, or fainting. Severe arrhythmias can damage the body’s vital organs and may even cause loss of consciousness or death.
Pacemakers can relieve some arrhythmia symptoms, such as fatigue and fainting. A pacemaker also can help a person who has abnormal heart rhythms resume a more active lifestyle.
Riverview Cardiac Surgery is comprised of board-certified cardiothoracic surgeons who specialize in the diagnosis and treatment of arrhythmias and other cardiac diseases and conditions. We look to have a quick recovery and subsequent active lifestyle for our patients. Our qualified staff works with the patients and families to make sure that all information and guidelines are communicated.