FAQ
Difference between heart attack and SCD/ plumbing vs electrical system?
    • A pacemaker is a device that will only provide heart rate support for slow heart rhythms such as bradycardia or heart block.
    • An implantable cardioverter defibrillator is a device that has two functions.  It’s main function is to provide overdrive pacing or shock therapy to treat life threatening arrhythmias or fast heart rhythms such as ventricular tachycardia or ventricular fibrillation.  It also can provide heart rate support for slow heart rhythms such as bradycardia or heart block (pacemaker function).
What is a PVC and VT?

Ventricular Tachycardia (VT) is an organized arrhythmia that originates from the ventricles (lower heart chambers).  It is generally a fast heart arrhythmia >150 beats per minute (tachycardia).  It does not utilize the normal heart electrical conduction system, but originates from electrical circuits that can develop from areas of scar on the heart due to the above mentioned heart conditions. Some individuals can somewhat tolerate this heart rhythm (at least initially) but have symptoms of low blood pressure, feeling faint, chest pain or shortness of breath and others lose consciousness and go into cardiac arrest. Ventricular tachycardia is generally the initial heart arrhythmia that contributes to cardiac arrest in 90% of the cases.

 

  • Premature Ventricular Contraction (PVC) is a single extra heart beat (contraction) that originates from the ventricles (low chambers of the heart).  It can be either a  benign finding or associated with an underlying heart condition that may require further evaluation and management. Some individuals are unaware that the PVC’s are occuring and others are very sensitive to them and notice “palpitations” or “heart fluttering”.

 

 

What is involved in an ICD implant?
    • The procedure to implant an ICD usually takes a few hours. A surgical incision is made under the collarbone. Flexible wires (leads) are inserted into large veins that empty into the heart. These leads are guided to the heart with the use of X-ray images. Once the lead(s) are in the appropriate heart chamber(s), they are secured to the heart wall. The other end of the lead is connected to the ICD device (generator). The generator is then placed underneath the skin and the incision is closed. A Defibrillation Threshold Test (DFT) may be done after the ICD is implanted. This test involves putting your heart rhythm into a ventricular arrhythmia and allowing the ICD to shock your heart back into a normal rhythm.
What is Atrial Fibrillation?

Atrial Fibrillation (AF) is a disorganized arrhythmia that originates from the atrium (upper heart chambers).

What is VT?

Ventricular Tachycardia (VT) is an organized arrhythmia that originates from the ventricles (lower heart chambers).  It is generally a fast heart arrhythmia >150 beats per minute (tachycardia).  It does not utilize the normal heart electrical conduction system, but originates from electrical circuits that can develop from areas of scar on the heart due to the above mentioned heart conditions. Some individuals can somewhat tolerate this heart rhythm (at least initially) but have symptoms of low blood pressure, feeling faint, chest pain or shortness of breath and others lose consciousness and go into cardiac arrest. Ventricular tachycardia is generally the initial heart arrhythmia that contributes to cardiac arrest in 90% of the cases.

Who gets a PaceMaker?

Those people who have symptoms (lightheadedness/ dizziness, loss of consciousness, shortness of breath, chest pain) as a result of slow heart rates.

Who gets an ICD?
    • Those people who have had or are at high risk for developing life threatening arrhythmias (ventricular tachycardia or ventricular fibrillation). There are many heart conditions associated with cardiac arrhythmias.  The most common include: coronary artery disease (previous heart attack or coronary artery bypass surgery/ other heart surgeries), hypertension (high blood pressure) or illicit drugs/alcohol or valvular heart conditions that later develops into cardiomyopathy (an enlarged heart).  Other inherited conditions include: hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM), Arrhythmogenic right ventricular dysplasia (ARVD), catecholamine polymorphic ventricular tachycardia (CPVT), left ventricular non-compaction cardiomyopathy, sarcoidosis, amyloidosis, and congenital heart conditions (Tetrology of Fallot, ventricular septal defects).
What are the components of an ICD vs Pacemaker?
    • The actual pacemaker (device) is called the generator and up to three leads can be placed.  A lead may be placed in the  right atrium, right ventricle and/ or the coronary sinus (to allow left ventricular pacing).  The leads for a pacemaker can only provide pacing and sensing capabilities.
    • The actual ICD (device) is called the generator and up to three leads can be placed.  A lead may be placed in the right atrium (top chamber),  right ventricle (bottom chamber) and/ or the coronary sinus (to allow for left ventricular pacing).  The lead in the right ventricular is bigger (thicker) as it will provide both pacing / sensing as well as shocking functions. (picture).