What are the Different Types of Defibrillator Monitor?

Florence J. Tipton

A defibrillator monitor is generally used in a medical facility to regulate an abnormal heartbeat that is either too slow or chaotic. The type of defibrillator monitor that is used by a medical professional is typically based on a specific heart condition. An automated external defibrillator (AED) monitors the pace of the heart rate, and sends interval electrical shocks when an irregular heart beat occurs. The implantable defibrillator and the internal cardioverter defibrillator (ICD) are both battery-operated, surgically implanted monitors that restore the heart rhythm. When a patient’s heart stops completely, a manual external defibrillator (MED) is normally used to restart the heart.

Defibrillator monitors are used to regulate an abnormal heart beat.
Defibrillator monitors are used to regulate an abnormal heart beat.

An AED is externally attached to the heart and attempts to regulate the heart through repeated, automatic electrical shock treatments. It works by automatically shocking the heart whenever the monitor detects irregular heartbeats that may restrict blood flow. Using the AED is considered necessary to restore the normal flow of blood from the heart to the brain.

A defibrillator.
A defibrillator.

A ventricular fibrillation — which is a life-threatening condition that causes the heart to race in severely chaotic spasms — may occur in some patients when an AED is used. Cardiac arrest — a sudden loss of consciousness and heart function — may result from ventricular fibrillation. Typically, this causes a loss of blood flow to the brain.

A familiar term for the implantable defibrillator is a pacemaker — a device that controls the heart rhythm. The implantable defibrillator is surgically implanted into the chest and attached to the heart. This battery-operated defibrillator monitor is used to smooth out heartbeats that would otherwise race too fast.

Sometimes, natural heartbeats are also too slow. A patient who receives an implantable defibrillator may have experienced an arrhythmia, where the heart is unable to produce the right electrical signals that maintain a consistent pace. The implantable defibrillator stems the erratic signals by monitoring the heart. It replaces the electrical signals that the heart is no longer capable of generating without assistance from a medical device.

Another battery-operated defibrillator monitor is the ICD. By surgically placing the ICD in the chest, the monitor detects when the heart races or quivers. This condition is typically caused by a ventricular tachycardia, a rapid, life-threatening heart rate. Electric signals are typically sent from the device to the heart to correct the abnormal racing or quivering.

If the heart stops completely, doctors may use the MED. An MED is often used during an emergency or surgical procedure. It is used to shock the heart back to its normal function based on a voltage determined by the attending physician or paramedic. Several attempts at higher voltage levels might be required if the heart does not respond to initial attempts.

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