We often end up using the over-used cliche – my heart just skipped a beat. While it’s an apt way to express fear, surprise or even being in love, let’s understand how serious this is if we look at it from the medical perspective.
If this happens, the natural system fails and results in heart problems, where the beat patterns are either too slow or too fast for the patient’s heart to handle, which in medical language is called ‘Cardiac Arrhythmia’. Even though this might sound scary, yet, it is not a condition that can’t be fixed. Through a use of a pacemaker device, or an AICD ( Automated Implantable Cardioverter-Defibrillator) a device implanted inside the body, cardiac arrhythmia can be taken care of. This device is capable of performing cardioversion, defibrillation or in common knowledge can pace the heart. The AICD device, however, does not make the heart any stronger, but simply corrects the abnormality it is meant for.
The device is placed into the body, in the chest area, under a protective layer of skin and fat, only beneath the collarbone of the patient, through surgery. The device is not at all heavy, weights ranging from 20-50 gms, and is approximately the size of a matchbox. The AICD device and its components include a pulse generator, electronic circuits, sensors, single or multiple electrode leads and a lithium battery. Before and after the surgery the patient as well as people concerned frequently ask a number of questions related to things to do and avoid after the procedure is completed. Here are some of those questions, not all, as these are the most crucial ones that need answers.
But before I start answering those questions, some things patients should follow regardless of their routines.
- Regular check-ups to ensure the device is working properly.
- While travelling, patients with the device ensure that the checking authorities know of the device’s presence, so as to avoid bringing those metal detectors directly above the device.
- When the patient is scheduled to have another surgery or a dental procedure, the concerned doctor or dentist should know of the device, to avoid complications.
- Patients with a pacemaker should definitely avoid contact sports of any kind, to prevent any forthcoming damage to the device.
- There are special cards provided as proof of the device’s presence, which will help the patient from avoiding things that would harm the device in any manner.
Is it safe to drive having a device inside my chest?
Usually after the procedure, patients should avoid driving for at least 6-8 months. After this time period, they should consult their physician and heed by the recommendations.
Will metal detectors at airports or malls affect my AICD device?
Walking through a metal detector door frame should cause no trouble, only the hand held detectors have stronger magnetic force, so with the ID proving the existence of the device, patients should request a hand check.
How harmful are home appliances or microwave to the device?
Normally, home appliances including a microwave should not hurt the device in any manner. The ones that could be harmful are devices with a greater magnetic force, magnetic fields, industrial equipments or antennas.
What are the suggestions on the use of cell phones?
Cell phones are generally safe if used properly and there are small rules to be followed, such as making sure that the phone is on the opposite ear to the side of the device in the body. Patients should never carry the phone in breast pockets, ensuring that there is always a gap of at least six inches between the phone and the device.
How do I know if the device is working fine?
Regular check ups for the same are advised, at least 4 times in a year. The major concerns lie with the battery of the device. If during check ups some depletion or any other irregularities are noticed, the patient should be prepared to have a replacement done as soon as possible. Although as the irregularities start with the device, patients still should be able to go the next two to three months without any problems. Avoiding too much pressure on the side of the device would ensure a fine working of the same, although it is strongly advised to avoid presumptions and get the device and its functionality checked with utmost regularity.
Can I resume regular exercises after surgery?
Yes, of course, but after consultation from the physician, and not for the first six to seven months after the surgery. Yet, patients have to ensure that there is less pressure on the device and heart in general, so exercise patterns should be modified based on pressure generated and mainly after the results of the consultation regarding this query.
The device is a small piece inserted into the chest to regulate the heart, so utmost care is advised, and avoid anything that would lead to pressure on the device as well as trauma to your body.
Even though AIDC is becoming a part of many people’s lives, allowing them to live fuller and healthier lives, yet, one should never take it for granted, or assume that once the device is in their bodies, no further medical assistance will be needed. It is essential that patients never skip their regular check-ups, but most importantly, choosing the right hospital and the right doctor is the one step that patients need to take with utmost care.
About Sunshine Hospitals:
A Multi-SuperSpeciality Institution, 500+ bedded Sunshine Hospitals (Paradise Circle, Secunderabad) is promoted by globally reputed Joint Replacement Surgeon Dr. AV Gurava Reddy (Orthopedic Doctor) and like-minded associates who share the objective of making world-standard healthcare available, affordable and accessible to the common man.