To understand pacemaker and defibrillator monitoring, we need to discuss the devices themselves and what they do. Pacemakers are small devices implanted either under the skin or directly into the heart that monitor and send electrical signals to begin a heartbeat. Patients suffering from bradycardia or a slow heartbeat and those experiencing congestive heart failure amongst other cardiovascular diseases may benefit from a pacemaker.
As mentioned above, there are two distinct types of pacemakers. First is the traditional pacemaker, which involves a pulse generator or battery implanted under a flap of skin in the chest cavity. The pacemaker is connected to the heart by wires known as leads. New pacemaker technology has allowed for the implantation of self-contained, tiny pacemakers directly into a ventricle of the heart. These do not require any leads, yet they have similar longevity and effectiveness characteristics.
Implantable cardioverter-defibrillators or e ICDs are the miniaturized, implanted versions of the automatic external defibrillators that you may have seen on TV or in public areas. This tiny device is very similar to a pacemaker, and in fact, many of them work double duty pacing the heart. However, the most important and primary use for an ICD is to deliver a strong electric shock if there’s any indication that the heart has stopped beating. Sudden cardiac death is a distinct possibility for many patients with ventricular arrhythmias. Therefore, ICDs are exceptionally useful in helping prevent that outcome.
Monitoring These Devices
While these devices do transmit data, it is imperative to have a qualified and knowledgeable cardiovascular expert monitoring and interpreting the data. Analyzing the data from pacemakers and ICDs allows us to understand more about the patient’s condition, how they’re progressing and whether the device is doing its job. We can then modify the programming of the device or even suggest an alternate course of action should it be necessary.
Pacemakers and defibrillators are essential devices and, in many cases, may be lifesavers. However, it is also critically important to interpret their data appropriately to ensure they are working optimally. Contact us to learn more about the monitoring services we offer for pacemakers and ICDs and how they could benefit you.