Pacemakers vs. Defibrillators

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Pacemakers vs. Defibrillators | Summit Healthcare | Show Low, AZHas your doctor recommended one of these? Here’s a breakdown of how they differ.

IF YOU’VE BEEN diagnosed with a life-threatening arrhythmia, your cardiologist may recommend an implantable device such as a pacemaker or implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD).

What’s the difference?

Both treat arrhythmia. A pacemaker uses electric pulses to keep your heart’s rhythm normal. An ICD monitors your heart rhythm and delivers a corrective shock when the rhythm gets too fast or too slow. Some new ICDs even have a pacemaker setting and can do both.

How big are they and where do they go?

Pacemakers are commonly the size of a half-dollar, while ICDs are comparable to a pocket watch. Both can be implanted in your chest or abdomen.

What conditions are they used for?

Both devices can help if you have:

  • bradycardia
  • Brugada syndrome
  • heart attack
  • long QT syndrome
  • sudden cardiac arrest
  • underlying causes of sudden cardiac arrest
  • ventricular tachycardia
Will these devices require lifestyle changes?

With either device, you’ll need to follow your doctor’s instructions. You may also need to keep a few extra precautions in mind:

  • Alert airport security that you have a pacemaker before going through security detectors.
  • Avoid heat therapy for muscles and transcutaneous electric nerve stimulation (TENS) units.
  • Don’t keep your cell phone in your shirt pocket.
  • Don’t undergo magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).
  • Keep headphones at least 1.2 inches away from your device.

Learn more about the heart health services available to residents of Show Low, Snowflake, Pinetop-Lakeside, and the surrounding areas. Or give us a call at 928.537.6303.

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