Heart failure has been one of the serious medical problems all across the world. The main aim of a heart failure therapy, either with the help of drugs or devices, is to inhibit promotion of congestive heart failure, which we call in our layman term as “heart attack”. Rigorous efforts have been put in to develop heart devices which will improve cardiac reserve and optimize pump function to meet metabolic requirements.
A cardiac device or a heart device helps the patient to keep their heart beating with a normal rhythm and these have saved the lives of millions of people worldwide.
Types of Heart Devices
There are several types of heart devices available at present. The most commonly used heart device is discussed below:
Heart Pacemaker: A small electric device which is implanted under the skin and sends a signal whenever the heart beats slowly or irregularly thereby bringing it to the normal pace. The entire process of implanting it takes about 1 hour in most of the cases. Pacemakers are mostly used in cases of slow heart beating (bradycardia) but can also be used in fast beating (tachycardia) or severe heart failure.
Implantable Cardioverter Defibrillators: This is also a battery powered pulse generator and functions similar to a pacemaker. This type of heart device is used when the heart is beating chaotically and much too fast. Certain ICDs have pacemaker features which work as a pacemaker in case of a heart beating slowly.
Automated External Defibrillators: It is a portable type of heart device which can be sometimes seen in public places. It induces defibrillation by sending blood and oxygen to the brain. It is performed by applying an electric shock to the chest.
Cardiac Ablation Catheters: Cardiac ablation catheters is a procedure where energy like radiofrequency, cryoablation or sometimes laser lights are used to make small scars in the heart tissues to prevent movement of abnormal signals. They are threaded up into the vein to reach the heart. The wire has an electrode at its tip. The patient is awake the whole time and is just given a sedative to relax. The small hole can be made anywhere at arms, thighs, groin or even neck.
Cardiovascular Angioplasty Device: Angioplasty is a minimally invasive technique done with the help of an imaging guidance. It is done to improve the body blood flow in the vein and arteries. In this procedure a balloon tipped catheter which is a long thin plastic tube is inserted into the narrow or blocked artery or vein. After inserting the balloon present at the tip is then inflated to open the vessel and after the work is done it is again deflated and then removed. A small wire mesh tube may also be permanently placed in the newly opened vein or artery so that it remains open.
Prosthetic Heart Valves: This is a type of heart device which is placed when one of the four chambers of the heart fail to function. All mechanical prostheses have an absolute requirement for anticoagulant treatment. The potential advantage of avoiding the hazards of anticoagulation has led to the search for a valve replacement of suitable biological material which would not require long term anticoagulant treatment. A number of different approaches to the problem of finding a suitable biological valve have been made. There are numerous types of valves and selecting an optimal one for a patient is difficult. The age, life expectancy, preference, indication/contraindication for warfarin therapy and comorbidities are some of the important factors to be kept in mind while selecting a valve.
Heart Stents: A stent is a tiny tube which is inserted into a blocked passageway to keep it open and restores the blood and other fluids depending on where it is inserted. They are made of either metal or plastic. They are usually required when plaque blocks a blood vessel. Plaques are made up of cholesterol and other substances and they attach to the wall of a vessel. First a catheter will be placed into the blocked artery and this will then open blockage with the help of balloon angioplasty and then the stent is inserted into the vessel to keep it open. But these tubes can get blocked or damaged just like any other blood vessels.
Ventricular Assist Device: A ventricular assist device is a mechanical pump that is used to assist heart function and blood flow in people who have weakened hearts. This heart device takes blood from the lower chamber of the heart and just like how a normal and healthy heart functions; it pumps blood into the body and other vital organs. A VAD is useful in cases while the patient is waiting for a heart transplant, during or after the surgery until the heart recovers fully or when the person is not eligible for a heart transplant. Two types are there- the left and right ventricular device. The most common one that is used is the Left VAD and if both are used at the same time it is called as biventricular assist device. The Right VAD is however used for a short period of time.
The heart devices are very important to stabilize a person. Depending on the problem, the doctor would decide on which type of heart devices you need.