What Is The Difference Between A Defibrillator And A Pacemaker?

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The Difference Between A Defibrillator And A Pacemaker

Have you ever wondered what the difference between a defibrillator and a pacemaker is? Well, you're not alone! This article aims to educate you about the difference between the two and how each one works. The difference between a defibrillator and a pacemaker is that the former is designed to correct any irregular heartbeats, while the latter regulates the heartbeat and prevents it from becoming too slow or too fast.

A pacemaker is implanted into the body through open-heart surgery. During the surgery, doctors will wire up the device to your heart so that it can monitor your heartbeat and send electrical pulses whenever necessary.

A defibrillator performs the same function as a pacemaker but in an emergency situation where someone’s heart has stopped beating properly (is in an abnormal rhythm). It sends an electric shock to their heart in an effort to “restart” it into its normal rhythm.

We go into more detail below…

What Is A Pacemaker?

Pacemakers are used to treat patients with heart failure or other cardiac conditions. They are implanted into the chest wall and connected to the heart by wires called leads. The pacemaker uses electrical pulses to cause the ventricles of the heart to help it beat at a normal rate. A pacemaker can help treat bradycardia (a slow heartbeat), atrioventricular block, sick sinus syndrome, and various kinds of tachyarrhythmias. The pulses may be timed by a device in the pacemaker or they may be synchronized with the patient’s natural heartbeat. Pacemakers can be implanted as a permanent solution, or they can be removed if necessary.

There are different types of pacemakers/implantable cardioverter-defibrillators (ICDs):

  • Single chamber pacemaker;

  • Dual chamber pacemaker; and

  • Biventricular pacemaker.

Both pacemakers and ICDs are implanted in the body when there is a deficiency in the rate or rhythm of heartbeat in patients. These devices are used to restore normal rhythm to its pathophysiology. First generation pacemakers were developed in the late 50s and thus were the first general-purpose electronic device implemented in heart patients.

What Is A Defibrillator?

A defibrillator is an electronic device that delivers an electric shock to the heart through electrodes placed on the outside of the chest. The shock stops abnormal rhythms, such as ventricular fibrillation and ventricular tachycardia. Defibrillators are used in cases where a person has severe cardiac arrest, when the heart's rhythm becomes dangerously abnormal or erratic.

A defibrillator can be a portable device that can be carried by emergency medical technicians (EMTs) or other first responders to the scene of an emergency. It can also be a unit that's permanently installed/placed in public places such as airports, gyms, construction sites, schools and stadiums.

The Main Differences Between A Pacemaker And A Defibrillator

It’s safe to say that both devices serve the same purpose to keep your heart beating properly. Both devices were designed with an intention to save lives and the function of each device is similar. However, while both are actually similar in functions, there are differences between them, one being that a pacemaker sends electrical shocks to your heart for a normal heartbeat, while a defibrillator is used for abnormal heartbeat. While one is a surgically implanted device, the other is an external device used by both laypeople and first responders in emergency situations. 

If you are interested in buying a defibrillator for the purpose of first aid, they are readily available for purchase through AED Advantage. AED Advantage is one of North America’s largest distributors of AED units, kits, and replacement parts and they offer a wide selection of AEDs to suit different locations and situations. Visit their shop today to find the best AED for your needs.  

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