An implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD) is a small, battery-powered device that helps control life-threatening arrhythmias and prevent sudden cardiac arrest. ICDs are placed under the skin of the chest or abdomen during a noninvasive procedure. Some types of ICD may be connected to your heart by fine wires.
What does it involve?
You will likely be sedated by intravenous medication but awake during ICD implantation. You also receive local numbing medication. First, the ICD itself will be implanted under your skin, usually in the chest near the collarbone.
Next, if the ICD you are receiving involves wires that connect to your heart, the cardiologist will make a small hole in in a blood vessel with a needle, then insert a thin, flexible guide through your blood vessels to your heart. The wires will be inserted through the blood vessel and connected.
Once the ICD is placed, if it detects an irregular ventricular rhythm, it will emit low-energy pulses designed to restore the heart’s rhythm. If the low-energy pulse fails to restore rhythm, the ICD will emit a high-energy pulse to defibrillate the heart as a life-saving measure. The high-energy pulse is brief, but may be painful and startling.
After ICD placement, you will need to spend a day or two in the hospital. Your cardiologist will test the ICD before you leave. You can expect to resume normal activities within four weeks.
ICDs are considered standard treatment for people who have survived cardiac arrest. Studies show that ICDs also protect people who are at high risk for sudden cardiac arrest.
Rare but serious complications of ICD implantation include bleeding, infection at the entry site, damage to the blood vessels or heart valves, puncture of the heart, blood clots, narrowing of the pulmonary veins, kidney damage, stroke, heart attack, or death.
Driving may be restricted after receiving an ICD. You may have to wait several months after the procedure before you can drive. You may not be able to receive a commercial driver’s license.
After you receive an ICD, you will need to use precautions around magnets and certain electronic devices. Keep your cell phone, portable music player, headphones, and magnets at least six inches away from your ICD. Stay at least two feet away from generators and high-voltage transformers. Inform medical and security personnel that you have an ICD.
For more details about this treatment, visit:
Implantable cardioverter-defibrillators (ICDs) – Mayo Clinic
Implantable Cardioverter Defibrillator (ICD) – American Heart Association
What Is an Implantable Cardioverter Defibrillator? – National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute
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