An arrhythmia is any disorder of your heart rate or rhythm. It means that your heart beats too quickly, too slowly, or with an irregular pattern. Most arrhythmias result from problems in the electrical system of the heart. If your arrhythmia is serious, you may need a cardiac pacemaker or an implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD). They are devices that are implanted in your chest or abdomen.
A pacemaker helps control abnormal heart rhythms. It uses electrical pulses to prompt the heart to beat at a normal rate. It can speed up a slow heart rhythm (bradycardia), control a fast heart rhythm (tachycardia), and coordinate the chambers of the heart.
A Defibrillator, or Implantable Cardioverter Defibrillator (ICD), is a battery-powered device placed under the skin that keeps track of your heart rate. Thin wires connect the ICD to your heart. If an abnormal heart rhythm is detected the device will deliver an electric shock to restore a normal heartbeat if your heart is beating abnormally and much too fast.
ICDs are very useful in preventing sudden death in patients with known, sustained ventricular tachycardia or fibrillation. Studies have shown ICDs to have a role in preventing cardiac arrest in high-risk patients who haven't had, but are at risk for, life-threatening ventricular arrhythmias.