Medical Definition of Internal cardiac defibrillator

  • Medical Author:
    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.

Reviewed on 12/27/2018

Internal cardiac defibrillator: A device put within the body that is designed to recognize certain types of abnormal heart rhythms (arrhythmias) and correct them.

Defibrillators continuously monitor the heart rhythm in order to detect overly rapid arrhythmias such as

  • Ventricular tachycardia (rapid regular beating of the ventricles, the bottom chambers of the heart); and
  • Ventricular fibrillation (rapid irregular beating of the ventricles).

These ventricular arrhythmias impair the pumping efficiency of the heart and greatly raise the risks of fainting (syncope) and sudden cardiac arrest. They tend to develop in people with coronary artery disease and heart muscle diseases (cardiomyopathies). They are life- threatening.

A defibrillator can be implanted within the body by far less invasive techniques than in the past because the devices, aside from being more technologically advanced, are smaller. (An implantable defibrillator is about the size of a minicassette).

The defibrillator corrects the heart rhythm by delivering precisely calibrated and timed electrical shocks, when needed, to restore a normal heartbeat.

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Reviewed on 12/27/2018