A cardiac arrest is a life-threatening arrhythmia in which the heart’s pumping function stops – and thus no blood comes out to the body’s organs, including the brain. If a patient’s circulation does not start again in a few minutes, the brain will get damaged – and die within a few moments. Most often, the pumping function of the heart ceases because the heart rhythm becomes so rapid that no blood is pumped out to the body. This is typically called ventricular fibrillation (VF) or ventricular tachycardia (VT), and special cardiac pacemakers (ICDs) can help.
This type of life-threatening condition can typically be stopped by giving the heart an electric shock. It is possible to treat this using a defibrillator, which you can often see hanging in public places. However, it is also possible to place a defibrillator inside the body. This ICD device can act as both a normal pacemaker, and a tiny defibrillator.
- Implantable Cardiac Defibrillator (ICD)
- Leads to the left ventricle
- Leads to the right atrium
- Leads to the right ventricle
As with other pacemakers, the operation to implant one is typically performed under local anesthesia and typically takes one hour. It is a safe procedure with only low risks of complications. Like ordinary pacemakers a CRT pacemaker can be programmed and adjusted using special computers and leadless communication through the skin. Often, they are controlled remotely through a leadless device with web based contact to the implanting cardiology center.
If there are problems with heart failure at the same time, you can choose an ICD that – in addition to giving shock – can regulate the rhythm in both heart chambers at the same time, this is called a CRT-ICD.