A defibrillator is a medical device that is used to treat certain types of life-threatening abnormal heart rhythms, known as cardiac arrhythmias. It works by delivering a large electrical shock to the heart through patches or pads placed on the chest. This shock helps to reset the heart’s normal rhythm and can restore normal heart function.
There are several types of defibrillators, including external defibrillators and implantable defibrillators. External defibrillators are portable devices that are used in emergency situations, such as when someone experiences sudden cardiac arrest. They can be found in public places, such as airports and malls, and are often used by laypeople who have been trained to use them.
Implantable defibrillators, also known as ICDs, are small devices that are surgically implanted in the chest. They are similar in size and shape to a pacemaker, and they work by delivering an electrical shock to the heart through leads that are placed in the heart through a vein. ICDs are used to treat people who have a high risk of sudden cardiac arrest due to certain types of arrhythmias.
The procedure to implant an ICD is similar to pacemaker implantation and is generally done in a hospital or clinic setting. It takes about one to two hours and is usually done under local anesthesia, which means the patient is awake but the area where the device is implanted is numb.
As with any surgical procedure, there are some potential risks and complications associated with ICD implantation. These may include infection at the implant site, bleeding or bruising at the implant site, damage to blood vessels or nerves during the procedure, allergic reactions to the medications used during the procedure, and blood clots. In rare cases, the ICD may not function properly or may need to be removed and replaced.
It is important to discuss these risks with a healthcare provider before the procedure and to follow their instructions carefully to minimize the risk of complications. Most people who receive an ICD experience few or no problems, and the device can provide significant benefits in terms of reducing the risk of sudden cardiac arrest and improving quality of life.