Recent Blog Articles
Drug recalls are common
Easy ways to shop for healthful, cost-conscious foods
Prostate cancer in transgender women
Why eat lower on the seafood chain?
Can long COVID affect the gut?
When replenishing fluids, does milk beat water?
Safe, joyful movement for people of all weights
Slowing down racing thoughts
Are women turning to cannabis for menopause symptom relief?
3 ways to create community and counter loneliness
What is an implanted cardioverter-defibrillator, and who needs one?
Learn how these high-tech devices can save — and change — your life.
Defibrillators are devices that can detect — and correct — potentially deadly heart rhythms. The most common is ventricular fibrillation, which makes the heart's lower chambers (ventricles) quiver without actually squeezing and pumping. Blood stops flowing to the brain and other organs, causing the person to pass out. Death can occur within minutes.
A quick jolt of electricity can restore the heart's normal rhythm, however. The shock can be delivered from outside the chest with an automated external defibrillator (AED). Located in many public places, these portable devices can be used by medical personnel as well as untrained people, thanks to audible prompts that explain what to do. But some people are candidates for an implantable cardioverter-defibrillator (ICD), a miniature electronic device placed under the skin below the collarbone (see illustration).
To continue reading this article, you must log in.
Subscribe to Harvard Health Online for immediate access to health news and information from Harvard Medical School.
- Research health conditions
- Check your symptoms
- Prepare for a doctor's visit or test
- Find the best treatments and procedures for you
- Explore options for better nutrition and exercise
I'd like to receive access to Harvard Health Online for only $4.99 a month.Sign Me Up
Already a member? Login ».
As a service to our readers, Harvard Health Publishing provides access to our library of archived content. Please note the date of last review or update on all articles.
No content on this site, regardless of date, should ever be used as a substitute for direct medical advice from your doctor or other qualified clinician.
Free Healthbeat Signup
Get the latest in health news delivered to your inbox!