Implantable electronic devices are a common form of treatment for heart rate and rhythm problems. These problems, known as arrhythmia, are usually the result of issues with the heart’s electrical system. Dependent on the type of arrhythmia implantable electronic devices may be the right treatment. These devices are implanted into the chest or abdomen and there are two options, dependent on condition:

  • ICD – implantable cardioverter defibrillator
  • Pacemaker

Below we’re looking in turn at each of these implantable electronic devices and how they can help patients.

What is an Implantable Cardioverter Defibrillator (ICD)?

An implantable cardioverter defibrillator is one of the implantable electronic devices patients may consider in the treatment of arrhythmia. It is a small electronic device using battery power to keep it functioning. It keeps track of the heart rate and is directly connected to the heart via thin wires. ICDs work by delivering electric shocks if an abnormal heart rhythm is detected. ICDs specifically target chaotic heart rhythms and those which are beating much too fast.

This type of implantable electronic device can prevent sudden death, especially in patients with life-threatening ventricular arrhythmia. They can even prevent cardiac arrest in high risk patients. They also provide pacing to correct heart rhythms but both cardioversion and defibrillation involve shocking the heart.

What is a Pacemaker?

A pacemaker, as the name suggests, helps to set and maintain the pace of the heart. It includes a small battery-powered device, the generator, and thin wires or leads which connect the generator to the heart. Much as with ICDs, it provides regular monitoring of the heart’s rhythm.

A pacemaker produces electrical impulses which stimulate the heart’s rhythm. It is usually implanted under the skin and impulses from the generator flow regularly to the heart. It acts as a natural pacemaker would, ensuring the heart’s rhythm remains steady. There are also external pacemakers, but these are often just temporary.

Implantable Electronic Devices Surgery

All implantable electronic devices require surgery. Both devices are usually fitted under local anaesthetic with sedation, so almost all patients will feel sleepy.  Surgeries usually take no longer than three hours and in most instances an overnight stay is necessary. This allows monitoring of the device and ensures it is working correctly. While it may seem worrying, an experienced cardiology team carry out these procedures regularly. Patients can take their time and also have the opportunity to discuss any worries before agreeing to anything. Most patients considering implantable electronic devices suffer considerably because of their arrhythmia or it is life threatening. Again, it is understandable how worrying this is but most of all, it is important to get the right treatment.

Many patients with arrhythmia don’t know what treatment they need. This is why it is important to discuss your condition with a professional cardiologist. You can make an appointment with Dr David Begley via his private secretary via this contact form.