Devices Designed to Keep Your Heart Beating

Cardiovascular disease, commonly known as heart disease, can lead to serious health issues. The fact of the matter is that heart disease is the leading cause of death in the U.S. for both men and women, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Death rates could be much higher were it not for devices such as defibrillators and pacemakers, which save millions of people around the world each year.

Medical devices in this country are regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Safety and effectiveness are tested before a product hits the market. Devices in the heart disease category are used to treat cardiovascular diseases, conditions, and other heart related issues. Some of the devices that are approved by the FDA are implanted in the human body, while others are used on the outside.

A List of Some of the Available Heart-Related Devices

All manners of cardiovascular issues are treated by FDA approved devices, including those listed below:

  • Automated external defibrillators (AEDs): These come in portable and automatic formats, and are used to restore a normal heart rhythm when a patient goes into cardiac arrest. These devices analyze the heart rhythm so that medical professionals can decide whether or not a shock needs to be administered to restore normal function.
  • Cardiac ablation catheters: These are long, thin tubes that are threaded into or onto the heart. Cardiac ablation catheters are used on patients with heartbeats that are abnormally fast, and they work by making modifications to small areas of heart tissue where the abnormalities are originating.
  • Cardiovascular angioplasty devices: These tubes are thin, long, and flexible, and are threaded into the heart or blood vessels in areas that have experienced a blockage. Blood flow is improved, and chest pains are reduced using these devices.
  • Cardiac pacemakers: Battery-operated pacemakers are implanted into the body to help regulate a heart that sometimes beats too slowly. They work by checking electrical impulses of the heart and delivering electrical stimulation when the heartbeat gets out of its natural rhythm.
  • Implantable cardioverter defibrillators (ICDs): These devices are used to monitor heart rhythms and deliver an electric shock if those rhythms become too fast. Some devices will even record patterns so that they can be reviewed by health professionals. Newer models will even send basic information to the doctor of the user.
  • Prosthetic (artificial) heart valves: Heart valves direct blood flow through the heart, and need to be replaced when they become dysfunctional. There are two replacement options: mechanical valves are comprised of man-made materials, while bioprosthetic valves are created using tissue from human cadavers or animals.
  • Stents: These lattice-shaped tubes are permanently inserted into arteries to help improve blood flow. Some stents will contain drugs that are there to ensure that further blockages do not occur.
  • Ventricular assist devices (VADs): These devices are used to help weaker bloods become more effective at pumping blood. VAD’s were initially used as a short-term treatment for heart transplant recipients, but are now often used on patients with heart issues who are not considered a good candidate for a heart transplant.