“Pacemakers are different than what we call AICDs or automatic implantable cardioverter defibrillators. In patients that have weak hearts, that have arrhythmias, or patients that are high risk for arrhythmias, which lead to sudden death, we actually can implant what they call an AICD, an automatic implantable cardioverter defibrillator. And what these devices do while they have pacing capacity for those patients that need pacing. It actually sits there and watches for dangerous arrhythmias, very fast heart rates. For example, that could come from what we call ventricular tachycardia or fibrillation, and then it shocks the person. And then obviously stops that arrhythmia because a lot of times when a patient has these arrhythmias, unless the medics get there or a bystander gets access to an AED, they actually could have significant anoxia or lack of oxygen to the brain, or they could have death.
So patients will come and complain about a shock that they received. But I try to tell them, look, it saved your life because if you didn’t have it and you didn’t get shocked, it’s like being seen or not being seen. I always tell patients is good to be seen when you have a shock from a defibrillator, it’s good to be seen because the alternative is that you’re done. That’s it. That’s the end. And that’s what happened to people before they had AICDs, they would have, you know, a sudden arrest at the casino or on the highway or whatever, and then they would be gone, you know, and they go, well, they had sudden death. Now we can revive people from sudden death, not just because they’re at the casino and somebody got the defibrillator, but we can actually have a device implanted in them that sits there. And for most people, the first shock is more than two years out. And for some people, it never shocks them. They die from other causes. But for those that have it, that get shocked or get recurrent shocks, it’s actually a life saving device, and it does only one thing: saves lives. It doesn’t improve quality of life or change symptoms or any other parameter, but saving lives is a big part of it.”