1 What is an Implantable Cardioverter-Defibrillator (ICDs)?

A pager-sized device that is placed in your chest is called implantable cardioverter-defibrillator (ICD).

The main goal of this is to reduce the risk of dying if your ventricles go into an alarming rhythm leading to cardiac arrest.

You might need an ICD if you have a ventricular fibrillation – a chaotic heartbeat which keeps your heart from supplying enough blood in your body, or if you have ventricular tachycardia – an alarming fast heartbeat.

This device can stop arrhythmias.

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2 Reasons for Procedure

Here are the most common reasons to have implantable cardioverter-defibrillator.

ICD continuously monitors for abnormal heart rhythms and at the same time try to correct them. It can also treat cardiac arrest.

The wires from your heart to the device transmit signals to the ICD when you had a rapid heartbeat. These signals will send electrical pulses to regulate your heartbeat.

A person can have ICD if:

3 Potential Risks

The risks that are related with implantable cardioverter-defibrillator include:

  • infection at the implant site
  • allergic reaction to the medication that you received
  • bruising
  • bleeding and swelling at the implant site
  • bleeding around your heart
  • damage to the vein where the ICD is placed
  • collapsed lung
  • leaking blood through the heart valve where the ICD is placed
  • damage to your arteries, valves and heart
  • heart attack

4 Preparing for your Procedure

In order to prepare for an implantable cardioverter-defibrillator, the night before the procedure you are not allowed to eat or drink anything.

Your physician will also ask you to stop taking certain kinds of medicines such as blood clotting drugs.

5 What to Expect

Here’s what you can expect before, during, and after your implantable cardioverter-defibrillator (ICD).

This is a minimally invasive procedure. An electrophysiologist is the one who implants the leads. Your doctor will give you a numbing medication and a sedative to relax your body.

You can also request a general anesthesia if you are nervous so you can go to sleep. Your doctor will make small incisions first.

One or more flexible insulated leads or wires will be inserted into your veins near your collarbone to your heart. This procedure will be guided with X-ray images by using a tool called fluoroscopy.

The ends of the wires are attached to the pulse generator and the other ends are secured to your heart. Your doctor will check the ICD and program it depending on your heart rhythm problem.

This procedure will take up to three hours or less. After the procedure, you might stay at the hospital for up to two days to be monitored.

6 Procedure Results

If you do not understand your implantable cardioverter-defibrillator (ICD) results, consult with your doctor.

After the recovery, your doctor will meet up with you for regular checkups. He will program your device. Your doctor might recommend medications and lifestyle changes.

The batteries in the ICD may last up to seven years. If the batteries are not working anymore, you will need another procedure to replace them.

Your doctor will also give you a list of things to avoid that can interfere with the device’s performance such as security systems or cell phones.

Consult your doctor if your defibrillator delivers a shock to restart your heart or if you are experiencing any problems with your ICD.