Life-Saving Devices: Defibrillators vs. Pacemakers Explained


Did you know that more than 350,000 cardiac arrests occur outside of the hospital each year? Most of these individuals die before reaching a hospital. Only about 10 to 20 percent survive.

If someone you love experiences a life-threatening heart condition, early treatment can make a world of a difference. Are you considering life-saving devices? Below is an overview of the difference between a defibrillator vs pacemaker.

Read on!

What Is a Defibrillator?

Defibrillators are used to restore normal heart rhythm. These are used in patients who are experiencing life-threatening cardiac arrhythmias. Defibrillators are not implanted in the body. They must be placed externally on the chest or abdomen of the patient.

But what does defibrillator do? It delivers an electric shock that can reset the heart rhythm and save the patient’s life. They are commonly found in airports and schools.

You can also find them in hospitals and other medical facilities. Defibrillators can successfully restore a person’s heart rhythm in seconds and can save lives in emergencies.

Types of Defibrillator

Defibrillators are lifesaving devices used to treat dangerously abnormal heart rhythms. There are two types of defibrillators: automated external defibrillators (AEDs) and manual defibrillators.

Manual defibrillators are used by healthcare professionals for a more precise and immediate application. AEDs are portable devices used by first responders to react quickly to an emergency. Defibrillators can be lifesavers and, depending on the heart rate abnormality may be recommended for a person’s medical care.

Who Needs a Defibrillator?

Defibrillators and pacemakers are two lifesaving devices that are often discussed together, but understanding how they work and who needs them requires further exploration. Defibrillators are used to shock the heart after cardiac arrest and work by sending an electric current to the heart, forcing it to contract and restart.

An individual with a weak or irregular heartbeat may require a defibrillator. Defibrillators are used to stop a dangerously fast and irregular heart rhythm.

It is used in a situation where CPR is not enough to restore a normal heart rhythm. Defibrillators are mainly used in the event of a sudden cardiac arrest. It is typically used in emergencies, where a pacemaker is used for long-term treatment.

What Are the Risks of a Defibrillator?

The greatest risk involved with using a defibrillator is the potential to damage the heart itself. The electric shock may cause irregularities in the heart’s rhythm as well as physical damage to the heart’s muscles and blood vessels.

Another is nerve damage. This can be caused by the shock given to the chest.

In addition, a defibrillator can cause intense pain when being used. Therefore, caution must be taken when using one of these devices.

Other risks include skin irritation or burns due to the electric current. It can also cause internal bleeding.

What Is a Pacemaker?

A pacemaker is a small device to help maintain a regular heart rate. It monitors the heart’s electrical activity. It sends electrical signals to maintain a certain rate and determine when the heart needs to be stimulated.

A pacemaker does not shock the heart to get it back in rhythm. It sends regular electrical signals to one of the heart chambers to maintain a normal heart rate.

Pacemakers come in different types. Some of the more sophisticated devices have additional features such as automatic rate control and anti-tachycardia pacing.

Pacemakers are usually implanted underneath the skin. They can be programmed and adjusted remotely by a doctor or nurse.

Who Needs a Pacemaker?

Generally speaking, anyone with a slow heart rhythm or an arrhythmia will need a pacemaker. Pacemakers are also helpful for those dealing with congestive heart failure.

This helps pump blood around the body more efficiently. Additionally, some heart surgeries and certain cardiac medications can also prompt the need for a pacemaker.

Any medical decisions should always be consulted with a doctor. They will help to assess needs and determine the best device for a patient’s specific situation.

How are Pacemakers Implanted?

Pacemakers manage the heart rate that becomes erratic or weakened. They are small, battery-operated devices.

These are inserted beneath the skin of the patient, They provide a steady electrical impulse that can help regulate the patient’s heart rate.

The difference between a Defibrillator and a Pacemaker is that a Defibrillator helps jump-start a stopped heart by sending an electrical shock that can jolt the heart and restore normal rhythm. While a Pacemaker sends regular electrical impulses to the heart to help it stay in a steady rhythm.

The insertion of a pacemaker will usually take between 30 minutes and two hours. The patient will usually be on an operating table and anesthetized.

The surgeon will make an incision over the collarbone. he will then insert the leads into specific positions on the heart. Once the long-term pacemaker is set, the patient will need regular check-ups to ensure the device is in working order.

What Are the Risks of a Pacemaker?

The surgical implant of the device can cause infection or excess bleeding. The device can malfunction or impair existing heart function.

Other risks include allergic reactions to the implanted metal. There is also the risk of blood clots forming around the implanted device. This can be a serious risk. Blood clots can travel to other parts of the body and cause blockages in the blood vessels.

It is important to weigh the risks against the benefits before having a pacemaker implanted, especially when considering other treatments or methods.

Defibrillator vs Pacemaker: What You Need to Know

Overall, defibrillators and pacemakers perform critical functions in saving lives. Both devices require training, and it is important to know how to use a defibrillator vs pacemaker.

They should be seen as complementary treatments that, when properly implemented, help ensure the health and safety of patients. Have a heart condition? Talk to your doctor today and learn how these life-saving devices can help you.

Want to read some more? Check out our blog post to learn more about health.

Written by Patricia

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