Defibrillator and Pacemaker

The pediatric heart specialists at Norton Children’s Heart Institute, affiliated with the UofL School of Medicine, implant defibrillators and pacemakers — or a combined device — in children to correct abnormal heart rhythm issues.

Electrical impulses that time the heartbeat can become too fast, too slow or irregular. This condition, called arrhythmia, affects the contractions of the heart chambers and the rhythm of the heart. That makes the heart less effective.

If the heart pumps too fast or is irregular, the chambers may not fill with enough blood and your blood pressure can drop. If the beat is too slow, there may not be enough blood delivered to the body.

Some arrhythmias are not dangerous, but others are life-threatening. Significant rhythm issues in the ventricles can pose a risk of sudden death.

Norton Children’s Heart Institute is the leading provider of pediatric heart care in Louisville and Southern Indiana.

The board-certified and fellowship-trained physicians at Norton Children’s Heart Institute have the experience and skill to provide a precise diagnosis of your child’s heart condition. They’ll determine whether a defibrillator or pacemaker is necessary to help your child’s heart condition.

Norton Children’s has a network of outreach diagnostic and treatment services conveniently located throughout Kentucky and Southern Indiana.

Pacemaker

If your child needs a pacemaker, where it is placed often depends on your child’s age. In babies and young children, the pacemaker may be placed in the abdomen to protect it from normal childhood activity. As your child gets older, your child’s surgeon may move it to the shoulder area, just under the collarbone.

The heart’s natural pacemaker is a group of cells in the right atrium called the sinoatrial node. A pacemaker can stimulate your child’s heart if the sinoatrial node isn’t working properly, if normal electrical pathways are blocked or if your child’s heart rate is abnormally slow.

Norton Children’s Heart Institute specialists typically consider pacemakers for treating slow arrhythmias such as:

  • Sinus bradycardia
  • Sick sinus syndrome
  • Heart block- where electrical signals from the atria do not travel to the ventricle successfully

Implantable Cardioverter Defibrillator

An implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD) is similar to a pacemaker. The device is also implanted in your chest or abdomen and also is connected to your heart. But instead of pacing the heart, it senses the heartbeat and is set to detect a dangerous rhythm.  If the ICD detects a dangerous rhythm, it sends a shock to the heart to restore a more normal rhythm.

Newer ICDs also can perform pacemaker duties as well as monitoring for dangerous rhythms.  In addition, many of these devices can make records of the heart rhythms so your doctor can evaluate the heart’s electrical patterns to better treat your child.

The heart specialists at Norton Children’s Heart Institute typically use ICDs to treat fast arrhythmias that are life-threatening, such as ventricular tachycardia or ventricular fibrillation.

Why Choose Norton Children’s Heart Institute

The Adult Congenital Heart Association has recognized Norton Children's Heart Institute for its expertise treating adult congenital heart disease.

  • Norton Children’s Hospital has been a pioneer in pediatric cardiothoracic surgery, performing Kentucky’s first pediatric heart transplant in 1986 and becoming the second site in the United States to perform an infant heart transplant.
  • The American Board of Thoracic Surgery has certified our cardiothoracic surgeons in congenital heart surgery.
  • The Adult Congenital Heart Association has accredited Norton Children’s Heart Institute’s Adult Congenital Heart Program as the only comprehensive care center in Kentucky and Indiana treating adults born with a heart defect.
  • More than 5,000 children a year visit Norton Children’s Heart Institute for advanced heart care.
  • Norton Children’s Heart Institute has offices across Kentucky and Southern Indiana to bring quality pediatric heart care closer to home.
  • The Jennifer Lawrence Cardiac Intensive Care Unit (CICU) at Norton Children’s Hospital is the largest dedicated CICU in Kentucky, equipped with 17 private rooms and the newest technology available for heart care.
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Norton Children’s Heart Institute

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