Implantable cardioverter defibrillator

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What is an implantable cardioverter defibrillator?

An implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD) is a small, lightweight cardiac device that is implanted under the skin. It is connected to wires that are placed in the heart.

What is it used for?

Heart defibrillators are often used to treat patients with a heart rhythm that is too fast.

How does it work?

ICDs are able to detect when the heart is beating too fast. When the heartbeat is too fast, the generator in the cardiac device sends an electrical pulse through the wires to the heart, which restores a regular heartbeat. ICDs also contain a built-in pacemaker, which the cardiologist can activate as necessary. The pacemaker element of the device prevents the heart from slowing down too much, and constantly monitors the heart rate. Read more information about pacemakers and how they work. Read more information about pacemakers and how they work.

New ICD models allow the cardiologist to view images of the patient’s heart. This allows him to accurately confirm diagnoses and make judgments about treatment options. These models provide a variety of treatments, depending on the patient’s heart condition.

What are the treatment options?

When it comes to treating a fast heartbeat, there are two treatment options. These are:
  • Low-energy treatment Low-energy treatment, or antitachycardia pacing, is a very gentle method of treatment used to treat fast heartbeat. A pacemaker in the ICD controls the heart rate, and in some cases, the cardiologist can program the machine to send very low-energy shocks to restore proper heart rhythm.
  • Maximum-energy shocks In this form of treatment, the cardiologist programs the cardiac device to send maximum-energy shocks in order to provide effective therapy for fast heartbeat.
What happens at a pacemaker/ICD implantation procedure?