Arrhythmias, which are abnormal heart rates or rhythms, are caused by issues with the electrical system of the heart. While there are many types of arrhythmias and a variety of treatment options, some arrhythmias may require a pacemaker or implantable cardiac defibrillator (ICD) to keep the heart beating as it should.
Pacemakers and ICDs are small devices that typically are implanted under the skin on the chest. They use electrical signals through wires, called leads, to address the electrical problems in the heart causing the arrhythmia.
The Difference Between a Pacemaker and ICD
The main purpose of a pacemaker is to make sure the heart rate does not get too slow. It also can monitor and record the rate and rhythm of the heart. Depending on the pacemaker, it may have one, two or three wires used to send electrical pulses to the heart.
An ICD has the ability to act as a pacemaker. However, it also has the ability to detect dangerously fast heart rates, called ventricular tachycardia or ventricular fibrillation, and stop them.