Pacemakers and Defibrillators for Controlling Arrhythmias

Pacemakers and defibrillators are small, battery-operated devices that help control and monitor heart rhythms. These types of devices are used to treat patients with arrhythmias.

Arrhythmias are a type of heart disease that causes abnormal heart rates. Common symptoms include shortness of breath, fluttering in the heart, chest pain and dizziness. Risk factors for arrhythmias include high blood pressure, genetics and congenital heart disease.

Aiken Physicians Alliance is proud to offer pacemaker and defibrillator insertion, follow-up care and cardiac resynchronization therapy. They are an excellent option for many patients as they require only minor surgery. Most patients can resume normal physical activity shortly after surgery.


Cardiac pacemakers help control arrhythmias by sending electrical pulses to prompt the heart to beat at a normal rate. This device is typically implanted in patients with bradycardia (slow heart rate). It is used less commonly in patients with tachycardia (fast heart rate).

They are made up of two parts: the generator and the leads.

The pulse generator is a small metal chamber that contains a battery and houses electrical circuitry. It controls the pace of the beats sent to the heart.

The leads are insulated wires that deliver electrical pulses to adjust heart rate. Depending on the pacemaker, your doctor will implant one to three leads. These are also called electrodes.

There are three kinds of pacemakers. Your physician will recommend the best option based on your condition.

  • Single chamber pacemakers carry electrical impulses to the right ventricle of your heart to control your heart rate.
  • Dual chamber pacemakers help control the pace of the contractions between the two chambers of the heart (the atrium and the ventricle). This type of pacemaker requires two leads which connect both chambers on the right side of the heart.
  • Biventricular pacemakers stimulate both of the lower chambers of the heart (the right and left ventricles). This helps the heart beat more efficiently.

This type is often referred to as cardiac resynchronization therapy (CRT). It utilizes three leads connected to the right atrium and both ventricles. This type of pacemaker may be appropriate for patients who have heart failure.

Implantable Cardioverter Defibrillators

An implantable defibrillator (ICD) is a small, stop-watch size device implanted just below the collarbone that monitors heart rhythms. This device can be used for any type of arrhythmia. It is particularly effective in treating ventricular fibrillation (v-fib).

If it senses irregular rhythms, it delivers an electrical shock called defibrillation. Defibrillation rhythms help to regulate abnormal heart rhythm.

Defibrillation rhythms can control life-threatening arrhythmias and sudden cardiac arrest. Most new defibrillators can also act as a pacemaker.

Contact Us

Talk to a doctor today if you are suffering from any new or existing symptoms of arrhythmias. Heart issues are always considered a major health problem and should be dealt with immediately.

In addition to pacemakers, a doctor may also recommend non-surgical ways to decrease your risk of heart attack or congestive heart failure.