The heart is an organ that pumps blood continuously throughout the body that helps keep a person alive. There are electrical impulses that help heart muscles contract and relax in a normal rhythm. When these electrical impulses are disturbed, it leads to irregularities with the heart rate and heart beats. This leads to a medical condition called arrhythmia, which, if left untreated, can lead to a heart attack. There are three types of arrhythmia; tachycardia (more than 100 beats per minute), bradycardia (less tan 60 beats per minute), and irregular (atrial fibrillation). In order to correct this abnormal heart rhythm, surgery is advised. This is done with the help of this particular device used to correct heart abnormalities, and the name of the surgery is based on the name of the device itself, and is called defibrillator surgery. Details about the same are given in the following paragraphs.
Implantable Cardioverter Defibrillator (ICD)
This is a device that is implanted under the skin of the chest. It is made up of a pacemaker, pulse generator, electrodes, batteries, and a software. The pulse generator sends out powerful shocks to the heart, and these shocks are carried to the heart muscles with the help of electrodes. These electrodes also help in sensing the heart rhythms. The software coded into the device helps the ICD device send a shock when needed. These shocks are generated with the help of batteries that last for about 5 to 9 years.
These devices monitor the heart rate and detect ventricular tachycardia (heart is beating at an abnormally fast rate), and they try to control the heart rhythm. If this does not help, and the condition leads to ventricular fibrillation, shock waves are sent through the heart muscles. These shock impulses help in converting the abnormal rhythms into normal heart rhythms.
These devices are proven to be life savers in many cases. People with dangerous heart rhythms who are at risk of sudden death are protected to some extent with this device. If the doctor finds a high risk patient, he advises surgery.
Preparation for the Surgery
Once you are advised to go through the operation, the doctor will carry out a series of tests, like blood tests, chest X-ray, EKG, etc. You will be advised to quit smoking about 6 to 8 weeks prior to the procedure. You will be given a series of instructions to be followed, that you should follow diligently before the operation. This will help you to recovery with ease. Do not eat or drink anything after midnight and on the morning of the operation. Eat a light meal for dinner, and do not drink tea, coffee, or water in the morning.
With every medical procedure, certain risks are involved. There are a few risks that include shock waves sent by the device when not needed. Though the shocks last for just a few seconds, you should inform your doctor about every one of them. Another risk includes bacterial infection. An infection may occur in the pocket of the skin where the device is placed. It is very important to seek immediate medical help as an infection can prove to be fatal.
Another risk of defibrillator implant is that it may harm (bruise, that may be lead to bleeding) the vein where the ICD is placed. It may also cause the heart valves to bleed, which, in a way, can hamper overall functioning of the body and can be life-threatening.
After the procedure, the patient is required to stay in the hospital for about 2 to 3 days. He is closely monitored. Within a few days, he will be advised to get back to his normal activities. However, during the recovery period, he should avoid lifting heavy objects and must avoid vigorous exercise especially the ones that need you to make use of shoulders or hands (swimming, golf, tennis, etc.).
Also, he should not carry out sudden jerky movements, and avoid using the arm on the side the device is placed a lot for a couple of days. He should wear loose cotton clothes over the incision and not apply lotions, creams, or deodorants over the area of surgery. He should also refrain from keeping his cell phone in his breast pocket (in case of men). He should keep the cell phone at least 6 inches away from the implant.
He will also be asked to visit for routine check ups every 2 to 3 months. The procedure may or may not seem simple, but you need to take a few precautions for it to function without any glitches. A defibrillator can help save a life, therefore, speak to the doctor regarding all the risks involved. If you have any further queries, ask your healthcare provider for training to solve your doubts regarding the device as well as the operation.
Disclaimer: This HealthHearty article is for informative purposes only, and should not be used as a replacement for expert medical advice.