Automated Implantable Cardioverter Defibrillator – AICD

Automated Implantable Cardioverter Defibrillator

AICD is a small battery-operated device that is placed in your chest to monitor your heart’s rhythm. It is also used for heart failure treatments where a person is considered to be at the high risk of dying from arrhythmia (abnormal heart rhythms). AICD is also known as Automatic Implantable Cardioverter Defibrillators or Implantable Cardioverter Defibrillators (ICD). Abnormal heart rhythms are a common cause of sudden cardiac death. If an AICD detects any abnormal heart rhythms, then it sends electric shocks to the heart to restore the abnormal heart rhythms. 

You might need an AICD if you have any signs of abnormal heartbeats (fast or chaotic) that hinder your heart from supplying enough oxygen-rich blood to the rest of your body. An AICD detects and stops any abnormal heart rhythms and it continuously monitors your heartbeat and sends the electric current to restore the normal heart rhythm whenever it is required. An AICD is different from a pacemaker device.

Why AICD is done?

An AICD gives an electric shock to the heart whenever it detects any abnormal rhythm. It is in a similar way when the hospital uses electrified paddles to bring the consciousness out of a person who is unconscious due to cardiac arrest. An automatic implantable cardioverter defibrillators (AICD) is surgically placed under your skin (generally below your left collarbone) and the insulated wires go from AICD to your heart through the veins. Since it keeps on monitoring the heart rhythms and it also restores any abnormal heart rhythms. AICD helps when you have a cardiac arrest, even if you are away from the nearest hospital.

How does it work?

When you have any abnormalities with your heartbeats, the insulated wires device transmits the electric signal to the AICD device and then it sends back the signals to regularize your heartbeats. Your AICD device may be programmed for the following situations and that depends on the problem with the beating of your heart.

Low energy pacing – When you have mild disruptions in your heartbeat then AICD reacts with low energy pacing. It is painless.

Higher energy shock – When you have serious heart rhythm problems, the device responds with the high energy shock. It can be painful.

Who needs an AICD?

  • An AICD is beneficial for a person who has:
  • A history of coronary heart diseases or a heart attack.
  • Abnormal heart muscle condition such as enlarged or thickened.
  • Family history of heart defect that makes abnormal heart rhythms.
  • Any other condition that affects the rhythm of your heart.

What are the risks associated with AICD?

  • You may get an infection at the implantation site.
  • May get allergic to the medication that was used during the procedure.
  • Swelling, bleeding or bruising at the implantation site.
  • It may damage the veins around the AICD device area.
  • Bleeding around your heart and that can be a life-threatening situation for you.
  • Collapsed lung

Dr. Mahesh Wadhwani

Chief of Cardiac Surgery & HOD
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Opinion based on American heart association guidelines

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