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Devices used in cardiology

A pacemaker is a medical device designed to regulate the beating of the heart. The purpose of an artificial pacemaker is to stimulate the heart when either the heart's native pacemaker is not fast enough or if there are blocks in the heart's electrical conduction system preventing the propagation of electrical impulses from the native pacemaker to the lower chambers of the heart, known as the ventricles. Generally, pacemakers do not treat fast rhythms of the heart. External pacemakers can be used for initial stabilization of a patient, but implantation of a permanent internal pacemaker is usually required for most conditions.
Automated external defibrillators
Automated External Defibrillators (AEDs) are a proved method of reducing morbidity and mortality from acute myocardial infarction (heart attack). The most common lethal arrhythmias in adult cardiac arrest can be cured by electricity; early defibrillation is a nationally recognized standard of care. To provide a realistic chance of survival, defibrillation must be available soon after cardiac arrest. An automated external defibrillator (AED) detects and treats cardiac arrest due to the cardiac arrhythmias, ventricular fibrillation (VF) and ventricular tachycardia (VT). Uncorrected, these arrhythmias rapidly lead to irreversible brain damage and death.
Implantable cardioverter-defibrillators
An implantable cardioverter-defibrillator (ICD) is a device that is implanted under the skin of patients that are at risk of sudden death due to ventricular fibrillation. The purpose of these devices is to provide defibrillation if the heart enters a potentially lethal rhythm. Implantable cardioverter defibrillators are intended to treat the very serious rhythm problems that can arise in the lower portion of the heart (the ventricles), not disturbances in other areas. In the near future, ICDs will be available which can be used for patients with these other rhythm problems. The process of implantation of an ICD is similar to implantation of a pacemaker.
Artificial heart
An artificial heart is a device that is implanted into the body to replace the original biological heart. It is distinct from a cardiac pump, which is an external device used to provide the functions of both the heart and the lungs. Thus, the cardiac pump need not be connected to both blood circuits. Also, a cardiac pump is only suitable for use not longer than a few hours, while for the artificial heart the current record is 17 months. The term artificial heart is used for one that is placed in the body, as opposed to an external machine, a cardiac pump.
Cardiac pump (heart-lung machine)
A cardiac pump or cardiac bypass pump or heart-lung machine temporarily takes over the function of breathing and pumping blood for a patient. It generally has two parts, the pump and the aerator. The pump is usually several motor-driven rollers that perstaltically massage a tube made of silicone rubber. The massage pushes the blood through the tubing. The aerator varies, but usually is either a drip onto a sterile surface, or passage through a silicone-membrane simulated lung. Cardiac pumps are most often used in heart surgery, so that a patient's heart can be disconnected from the body for longer than the twenty minutes or so it takes a prepared patient to die.
Intra-aortic balloon pump
The intraaortic balloon pump (IABP) is a device used in some critically ill people to help the heart pump. This temporary help may make the difference between life and death. The heart-lung machine used in open-heart surgery is a similar device, but is too complicated to be used for conditions other than in surgery. The basic components of the device are a catheter tipped with a 10-inch balloon and a pump machine that inflates the balloon with either helium or carbon dioxide. The balloon is inserted via a femoral artery cutdown and guided under fluoroscopic control to a position in the descending thoracic aorta just distal to the left subclavian artery.
Left ventricular assist device
A ventricular assist device (VAD) is a mechanical pump used for temporary blood circulation support. It decreases the workload of the heart while maintaining adequate flow and blood pressure. The left ventricle is the large, muscular chamber of the heart that pumps blood out to the body. A left ventricular assist device (LVAD) is a battery-operated, mechanical pump-type device that's surgically implanted. It helps maintain the pumping ability of a heart that can't effectively work on its own. A ventricular assist device is used to aid the pumping action of a weakened heart ventricle (a major pumping chamber of the heart).

Topics in heart disease and cardiovascular disorders

Coronary circulation disorders
Myocardium disorders
Heart valve disorders
Arrhythmias (abnormal heart rhythms)
Heart inflammation and infection
Congenital heart disease
Valvular disease (blood vessels disorders)
Procedures done for coronary artery disease
Devices used in cardiology
Diagnostic tests and procedures for heart diseases
Heart transplant

Featured articles on heart disease and cardiovascular disorders

Coronary artery disease
Heart attack (myocardial infarction)
Cardiac arrhythmia
Heart valve replacement
Congestive heart failure
Aortic aneurysm
Atrial fibrillation

All information is intended for reference only. Please consult your physician for accurate medical advices and treatment. Copyright 2005,, all rights reserved. Last update: July 18, 2005