Why is the doctor performing this procedure?
To monitor an abnormally beating heart, either one that beats too fast (Tachycardia), too slow (Bradycardia) or irregularly (Atrial Fibrillation). These abnormal heart beats are referred to as arrhythmias.
What is an AICD?
An AICD is a device that monitors a person’s heart rate. They are generally implanted into heart failure patients. The device is programmed to perform the following tasks: speed up or slow down your heart, depending upon the heart rate. The AICD gives your heart a shock if you start having life threatening arrhythmias or an abnormally high heart rate. Arrhythmias occur when your heart does not beat normally. Some arrhythmias can cause the heart to completely stop beating. The shock given by the AICD can make the heart start beating normally again. An AICD can also make your heart beat faster if your heart is not beating fast enough.
There are different kinds of AICDs, but they all have 2 parts: electrodes (thin flexible wires) and a generator. The electrodes or “leads” sense or watch the heart’s electrical activity. The generator is the battery power source and the “brains” of the AICD. It is a small metal can about the size of a deck of cards. The generator stores information about any arrhythmias you have. The generator also keeps track of how often it needs to give your heart a shock. Some AICDs also function as pacemakers for heart rates that are too slow or too fast.
When is an AICD indicated?
Your doctor has recommended you for an AICD system for one or more of the following reasons:
- At least one episode of Ventricular Tachycardia (VT) or Ventricular Fibrillation (Vfib)
- Previous cardiac arrest or abnormal heart rhythm that has caused you to pass out
- A fast heart rhythm that keeps returning and could cause death
- A fast heart rhythm that cannot be cured by surgery
- A fast heart rhythm that cannot be controlled with medications
- Severe side effects from medications