Implantable Cardioverter Defibrillator 2018-01-30T14:12:31-05:00
Implantable Cardioverter Defibrillator

An Implantable Cardioverter Defibrillator (ICD) is a small device implanted in the abdomen or chest to help treat irregular heartbeats called arrhythmias. It can also help reduce your risk of cardiac arrest, where the lower chambers in the heart beat irregularly and ineffectively. You may also need an Implantable Cardioverter-defibrillator if your heart beats too quickly and your heart can’t supply your body with enough blood.

An ICD can also be used to help prevent sudden cardiac arrest (SCA). During, SCA, heart suddenly stops pumping, preventing blood flow to the brain and other organs, but with an ICD this can be prevented. The ICD works to stop irregular heart rhythms by sending electric pulses or shocks to the lower heart chambers.

How An Implanted Cardioverter Defibrillator Works

An ICD is made up of wires with electrodes on the ends that connect to the heart chambers. If the ICD detects irregular heart rhythms, it can deliver extra “beats” or electric shocks to restore the heart’s normal rhythms. If these initial pulses don’t’ work, then the ICD can switch and deliver more high-energy pulses for defibrillation therapy. This is the strongest form of an electrical pulse to restore the heart to normal beating.

Though similar, the ICD does differ from a pacemaker, which is another implantable device to help with more mild heart rhythms in the upper chambers of the heart.

Who Needs an ICD?

  • ICD’s can be used in children, teens, and adults who have certain types of arrhythmia
  • Survivors of sudden cardiac arrest or those who are at risk of SCA
  • Those who have congenital heart disease
  • People who have heart failure

What To Expect Before & After Implantable Cardioverter Defibrillator Procedure

The procedure itself can be performed without putting someone to sleep, but rather using numbing medication and it typically takes 1-3 hours. Then a flexible wire is inserted into a major vein near your collarbone and guided to your heart with help from x-ray images. The end of the wire is secured to the bottom chambers of the heart, while the other end is attached to the shock generator, which is usually put under the skin near the collarbone.

After the procedure is done, to make sure it works; this will take shocking your heart. This is performed after they give you general anesthesia, and you are not awake during this test. For 1-2 days, you will stay at the hospital to be evaluated by the doctors to make sure the ICD is working correctly.

Short-term Precautions After the Procedure for First 4 Weeks

  • Refrain from vigorous above-the-shoulder activities such as swimming, golf, tennis, vacuuming, bowling
  • Refrain from lifting weights
  • Refrain from contact sports
  • Refrain from strenuous exercise programs

Long-term Precautions After the Procedure

  • Avoid placing your cell phone within 6 inches of your ICD. Although rare, it could misinterpret a signal from your phone as a heartbeat and slow down your heart rate
  • Security Systems. You will be given a card stating you had ICD surgery, to show at airports, or other places with metal detector where it could set the alarm off
  • Medical Equipment. Make sure doctors know you have an ICD as some equipment may have magnetic material
  • Power Generators. Stand at least 2 feet away from motor generators and high voltage transformers and welding equipment.
  • Headphones: Some headphones have a magnetic substance that can interfere with ICD’s
  • Battery Life: The battery life of the ICD can last up to 7 years. During regular checkups every 3-6 months, the doctor or nurse should check your battery life.


There are thousands of Interventional Cardiologists to choose from; however, not all doctors are created equal. Advanced interventional cardiac procedures take the skill of an experienced of a Cardiologist specializing in intervention. That’s why we’ve selected your city’s best Interventional Cardiologists – to make the decision process easier for you and your family.

For your peace of mind, Top10MD Interventional Cardiologists’ credentials are validated yearly to verify medical licenses have no serious patient care sanctions, current Board Certifications in their given medical specialty, current DEA & DPS licenses, and malpractice insurance. A Top10MD has at least 5+ years experience or has performed 300+ procedures in their given specialty and a current Patient Satisfaction Score of 8.5 or higher.

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