Pacemakers and Defibrillators
Some arrhythmias are life-threatening and can increase the risk of heart failure, stroke or cause death. Some arrhythmias are life-threatening and can increase the risk of heart failure and stroke or cause death. Pacing devices can help keep your heart in rhythm.
Pacemakers and defibrillators at Allegheny Health Network (AHN)
Experts at the AHN Cardiovascular Institute use the latest devices to correct irregular heart rhythms. We offer:
Your physician may recommend a pacemaker if you have bradycardia. This heart arrhythmia causes your heart to beat slower than normal. A pacemaker is implanted into the chest and sends electrical pulses to keep the heart in rhythm. We offer traditional implantable pacemakers, as well as:
- Leadless pacemakers: AHN is among a select few centers in the state offering Micra™, the world’s smallest leadless (wire-free) pacemaker, for people with bradycardia. Our physicians use a minimally invasive approach to place the device directly into the heart.
- Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)-compatible pacemakers: Your chances of needing an MRI scan to check for problems like cancer increase with age. However, MRI magnets can cause traditional pacemakers to malfunction. An MRI-compatible pacemaker enables you to safely undergo these scans.
Implantable cardioverter-defibrillators (ICD)
Your physician may recommend an ICD if you have a rapid heart rate, known as ventricular tachycardia, or heart failure. ICDs work similarly to pacemakers, providing electrical pulses to your heart to maintain a normal rhythm. We offer:
- Subcutaneous ICDs (S-ICD): These devices send electrical pulses via a pulse generator implanted near your armpit and a series of electrodes placed under your skin (subcutaneous) near your heart. These devices remain entirely outside the vascular (blood vessel) system.
- Traditional ICDs: These devices, via a pulse generator implanted near the collar bone, send electrical pulses via wires, or leads, placed directly into your heart through a large vein.
During an ablation procedure your doctor uses either heat (radiofrequency ablation) or extreme cold (cryoablation) to destroy areas of heart tissue responsible for sending erratic electrical signals. The resulting scar tissue blocks the signals that cause arrhythmia. Your doctor also closes or removes the left atrial appendage, an area where stroke-causing blood clots often form.
- Catheter ablation: Your doctor guides thin wires or catheters through a blood vessel in your groin to reach your heart and destroy targeted heart tissue.
- Zero-fluoroscopy ablation: We’re a national leader in using echocardiograms instead of X-rays to perform this specialized procedure to treat various arrhythmias. This process minimizes your exposure to radiation during a procedure.
- Hybrid ablation: Your surgeon works with a cardiac electrophysiologist in this procedure that combines surgical and catheter ablation to treat certain arrhythmias. This approach also minimizes your radiation exposure.
- Surgical Cox-Maze procedure: During open-heart surgery, your doctor uses a scalpel to scar heart tissue, and also closes the left atrial appendage.