It's the news you don't want to hear from your cardiologist: One or more of your coronary arteries -- the blood vessels that supply blood to your heart -- is blocked. You have coronary artery disease, the No. 1 killer of U.S. adults.
So does this mean you're headed for bypass surgery? Maybe not, if your situation isn't an emergency.
You might have other options -- including less drastic procedures to reopen those arteries, medication alone, or even radical lifestyle change.
What's your best option?...
Doctors check, or monitor, cardiac devices on a regular basis to make sure that they are working right and aren't causing any problems. Doctors also check the battery to see if it needs to be replaced.
Your doctor can also get information about your heart rate and heart rhythm. Cardiac devices can keep a record of when you had an abnormal heart rate or an irregular heart rhythm. So these devices can help your doctor know how your heart is doing and if you need any changes in your treatment.
Monitoring is done at office visits and remotely. Remote monitoring is done by telephone or the Internet.
Your doctor will check your pacemaker regularly to make sure that it is working correctly and that the settings are right for you. The process of checking your pacemaker settings is called interrogation.
The strength and length of the impulse sent to the heart muscle and how fast the pacemaker will go can be programmed into the pacemaker. Your doctor may adjust the pacemaker programming, if needed.
Your doctor will check your ICD regularly to make sure that it is working correctly and that the settings are right for you.
ICDs can store a lot of information that your doctor will look at. Your doctor will check to see if you had any irregular heart rhythms or if the ICD gave you any therapy (like a shock). If you have had a shock, your doctor will make sure that it was given at the right time and that it didn't happen when you didn't need it.
Monitoring at your doctor's office
No surgery is needed to check your cardiac device. The doctor places a special programming tool directly on your chest (on top of your skin and clothes). The tool automatically sends back information.
Your doctor may check the skin around your implanted device to make sure that there are no signs of an infection.