A defibrillator is a device that can restore normal heart rhythm through the delivery of a high-energy electric shock to the heart. Defibrillators can disrupt life-threatening arrhythmias to prevent cardiac arrest from occurring, or they can restart a heart that has already gone into cardiac arrest.
There are three types of defibrillators:
- Automated external defibrillator (AED)
- Implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD)
- Wearable cardioverter defibrillator (WCD)
AEDs are the defibrillators most familiar to people. These portable devices are found in schools, hospitals, and many workplaces and public spaces for use in medical emergencies. If someone goes into cardiac arrest, electrodes connected to the device are placed on the person’s chest. The device analyzes the data from the electrodes and delivers the shock automatically if it is needed.
An ICD is an internal device designed to interrupt arrhythmias before they become potentially fatal. It is surgically placed inside the chest of patients with arrhythmias that put them at a high risk of cardiac arrest. ICDs provide constant monitoring and immediate intervention when needed. If an abnormal heart rhythm is detected, the ICD automatically transmits electrical pulses to restore a regular heartbeat.
ICDs are about the size of a matchbox, and they can be programmed to treat specific types of arrhythmias. They can deliver a range of shocks from low-energy pacing to high-energy defibrillation therapy. They can also record heart activity to provide useful information in ongoing treatment and programming of the device.
Like the name suggests, a wearable cardioverter defibrillator is worn outside of the body. It is a vest worn under your clothes. Sensors within the vest monitor heart rhythm through contact with the chest, delivering shocks to the heart when needed. WCDs can also record heart activity.
If you or a loved one has concerns about your heart, the team at Advanced Cardiovascular Specialists can help. Our physicians are recognized leaders in their fields. They are dedicated to excellence in the assessment, diagnosis and treatment of cardiovascular diseases.
The team at Advanced Cardiovascular Specialists consists of North Louisiana’s leading experts in cardiovascular care. For more information or to schedule an appointment, please call our office at (318) 798-9400.