Sometimes lifestyle change and medication aren't enough to combat heart disease. When other treatments are no longer effective, your physician may recommend an implantable cardiac device (pacemaker) to help monitor and/or regulate the rhythm of your heart. There are different types of implantable devices, and it depends on your diagnosis as to which type your doctor will choose for you. Cardiac resynchronization therapy (CRT) pacemakers help a very slow heart beat more regularly. Implantable cardioverter defibrillators (ICDs) shock the heart when it is beating too fast to prevent cardiac arrest. Additionally, some devices have been developed that can do both.
A pacemaker literally sets the pace of the heart. This tiny device is implanted under your skin and attached to your heart by tiny wires, or leads. The signals, or pacing pulses, are carried along this electrical leads, to the heart and stimulate the heart muscle to beat. It monitors and adjusts the heartbeat based on customized limits. If the heart rate is slower than the set low limit, an electrode sends an electrical current to the heart causing it to beat. If the heart rate is faster than the set high limit, no current is sent.
Implantable Cardioverter Defibrillator (ICD)
ICDs are small devices that are surgically implanted just below the collarbone. It connects to your heart using tiny wires, or leads, and continuously monitors the heart's rhythm. When the heart beats to quickly, the ICD delivers a life-saving electrical current to restore the hearts normal rhythm and prevent sudden cardiac death. ICDs can also act as a pacemaker, when a slow heart rate is detected. ICDs monitor and adjust the heartbeat based on customized, high and low limits, and are similar to a pacemaker.
Cardiac Resynchronization Therapy (CRT) for Heart Failure (Bi-Vent Pacing) or (Bi-Vent ICD)
CRT is innovative new therapy for patients with heart failure by improving the coordination of the heart's contraction. CRT builds on the technology used in pacemakers and ICDs. It also can protect the patient from slow or fast heart rhythms. The CRT device has three electrical leads that are placed in the right and left chambers of the heart - different from a pacemaker or ICD which only have electrical leads placed in the right side of the heart. This allows the CRT device to simultaneously stimulate the left and right sides of the heart and restore the heart's coordinated pumping function. This is referred to as Bi-ventricular pacing.
Consult your physician if you have any questions about pacemakers or heart disease. This procedure must be scheduled by your physician. Your doctor will notify you on how to prep for this procedure. Also, patients may require an overnight hospital stay.