Do implanted devices for the heart give audible alarms? (Patient alert)
Yes, implantable cardiac devices like an implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD) can be programmed to give an audible patient alert when something is wrong with them and needs medical attention. Patient who hears the alert should then report to the service provider at the earliest and get the device interrogated using a programmer. It will then give the details of what caused the alarm. The treating team can then either rectify the problem or reprogram the device in case it is a false alert.
There are several reasons for which an audible alert can be generated. If the battery of the device is getting nearly exhausted or if the device charging time prior to delivery of a needed shock is prolonged, the device can give an alert. This allows the medical team to change the device with one which has a fully capacity battery to rectify problem and ensure patient safety.
Failure of the device leads (electrodes) as well as too many shocks can also trigger alerts and it helps in early rectification of the problem.
Sensors which detected excess fluid in the body can give an early indication of patient status in that a worsening of heart failure can be expected and treated early.
Some patients anxious may get ‘phantom alerts’ when actually there was none. Some may not hear the alert or feel the vibration alert and miss out a chance for early treatment. To tide over this, automatic transmission of alert condition to the service provider is also possible with additional wireless enabled equipment which can be kept at patients home in range of the device.
In case you wish to read a technical article on this, here it is: Patient Alerting Features in Implantable Defibrillators