How Does an Implantable Defibrillator Work?

Implantable defibrillators were first used to treat patients suffering from heart rhythm abnormalities like arrhythmias and ventricular fibrillations during the early 1980s. Throughout the years, more than 35000 implantable defibrillators have been implanted annually.

Today, the use of implantable defibrillators is rapidly growing because medical professionals are spreading awareness of the success of defibrillator technology in preventing life-threatening ventricular fibrillations and arrhythmias that often cause sudden cardiac arrests.

A wide variety of physical therapies are utilized to normalize the heart rhythm of patients suffering from arrhythmias and ventricular fibrillations. This means that an implantable defibrillator is not intended to cure or even prevent such heart rhythm abnormalities.

Instead, an implantable defibrillator treats arrhythmias and ventricular fibrillations by sending out electrical impulses to the heart in order to normalize such heart rhythm abnormalities. Moreover, Implantable defibrillators monitor and subsequently store data that can be used by medical specialists for evaluation purposes.

What is an Implantable Defibrillator?

Much like a pacemaker, an implantable defibrillator is a real-time monitoring device that informs you about your actual heart rate. If the activity of your heart is abnormally fast or slow, an implantable defibrillator makes use of its batteries in order to send out electric signals to your heart. It is used by people that are exposed to risks involved in recurring sustained ventricular tachycardia that is also known as fibrillation.

An implantable defibrillator consists of 3 main parts that include its leads, the defibrillator, and a programmer. The first 2 parts are implanted in the patient’s body. The actual defibrillator is packaged as a small metal case containing electrical mechanisms powered by batteries, and insulated wires are attached to it.

On the other hand, its leads monitor the heart’s rhythm patterns through its sensors, and it uses the information it gains in order to send the appropriate therapy to the heart as commanded by the defibrillator. The programmer is stored in a clinic or a hospital because medical specialists use it for the purpose of monitoring and making the necessary changes to the instructions stored by the implantable defibrillator in real time.

Implantable defibrillators restore the rhythm of the heart back to normal levels, and it delivers automated therapies that can be used to treat recurring heart rhythm abnormalities like:

    • ventricular fibrillation (VF);
    • a certain condition of atrial fibrillation (AF);
    • and ventricular tachycardia (VT).

However, patients suffering from ventricular arrhythmias should already have Implantable defibrillators to monitor and treat the particular heart rhythm abnormalities before medical professionals can prescribe it to treat atrial fibrillations.

How Can an Implantable Defibrillator Help You?

The 3 parts of an implantable defibrillator communicate with each other in order to initially work as an efficient detection system that monitors the particular type of tachyarrhythmias or fast heart rhythm abnormalities. Most implantable defibrillators can also be used to detect bradycardias or slow heart rhythm abnormalities. Upon detection, the implantable defibrillator sends out pre-programmed therapies to the heart that act as real time treatment processes.

Since an implantable defibrillator is used to detect fibrillation or ventricular tachycardia, this medical device provides the heart with electrical shock upon detection of fibrillation in order to maintain or functionally restore its normal rhythm.

The latest implantable defibrillators integrate overdriven pacing functions in order to transform sustained ventricular tachycardia activities through electrical processes. These new medical devices also support pacing functions in the occurrence of bradycardia.

In addition to such functions, an implantable defibrillator can store detected arrhythmic activities of the heart as well as the capability to run electro-physiological testing processes. As of today, an implantable defibrillator has proven to be very helpful in the prevention of sudden deaths that occur in people who suffer from known fibrillation or sustained ventricular tachycardia.

Developmental research is being conducted on such medical devices in order for implantable defibrillators to be used in the actual prevention of cardiac arrests in people at risk when it comes to ventricular arrhythmias.

How Does an Implantable Defibrillator Work?

In order to prevent the need for open chest surgery so as to make use of an implantable defibrillator, the latest devices incorporate simpler lead mechanisms and come in smaller sizes. The installation of these new implantable defibrillators is done through the blood vessels for this purpose.

Fundamentally, implantable defibrillators are connected to actual leads that are situated on the heart’s surface or inside it. Such leads are used to send out necessary electrical impulses to the heart. It is also used to monitor the cardiac activity and to provide pacing systems for the heart whenever necessary.

Implanted in a portion of the chest or the abdomen underneath the skin is a pulse generator that is connected to these leads. The generators of these implantable defibrillators are normally larger than a usual wallet, and it incorporates electronic mechanisms that are used to monitor and subsequently treat cardiac activity considered as abnormal to some extent.

The defibrillator and the leads consist the 2 major parts of an implantable defibrillator that are situated inside the body of the patient, and it acts as:

    • detection systems intended to monitor tachyarrhythmias or rapid heart rhythm patterns as well as bradycardias or slow heart rhythm abnormalities;
    • delivery mechanisms designed to send out varying degrees of appropriate therapies that can treat abnormal heart rhythm patterns in real time;
    • and data storage systems intended to collect information of each episode for succeeding evaluation purposes.

The programmer of an implantable defibrillator retrieves the information collected by its data storage mechanism so as for medical specialists to modify pre-programmed instructions in real time whenever necessary.

The delivery of appropriate therapies by implantable defibrillators depends on the detected types of arrhythmias or ventricular fibrillations,
together with the instructions programmed by the medical specialists. For instance, the implantable defibrillator treats ventricular fibrillations or abnormally fast rhythmic patterns of the heart with electrical shocks or defibrillation processes intended to normalize the heart’s rhythmic patterns.

Ventricular tachycardias, on the other hand, are usually treated with painless antitachycardia pacing processes by the implantable defibrillator. The usual therapies programmed by medical specialists in the delivery systems of implantable defibrillators are:

    • antitachycardia pacing;
    • defibrillation;
    • cardioversion;
    • and bradycardia pacing.