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Implantable Cardioverter Defibrillator

Medically reviewed by Drugs.com. Last updated on Jul 7, 2024.

What do I need to know about an implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD)?

An ICD is a small device that monitors your heart rate and rhythm. It is placed inside your chest or abdomen. An ICD may be used if you have a life-threatening arrhythmia. An arrhythmia is an irregular heart rate or a heart rate that is too fast or too slow. Some arrhythmias may cause your heart to stop beating suddenly. An ICD can give a shock to your heart to make it start beating again. It can also make your heartbeat faster or slower.

Implantable Cardiac Defibrillator (ICD)

How do I prepare for insertion of an ICD?

What will happen during insertion of an ICD?

What will the shocks from an ICD feel like?

You may not notice the low-energy shocks from your ICD, or they may feel like a flutter in your chest. The high-energy shocks are very short. They may feel like thumping or a painful kick in the chest. Your healthcare provider may give you medicine to decrease the number of high-energy shocks.

What should I expect after ICD insertion?

What are the risks of ICD insertion?

You may bleed more than expected or develop a blood clot after the procedure. You may develop an infection. The leads could poke a hole in your heart, lung, or vein. The leads may also cause arrhythmias when they are placed. Blood may collect in the pocket where the generator is placed and cause pain or an infection. The leads may disconnect or break, and you may need another procedure. You may also need another procedure to replace the entire ICD. Your ICD may not shock your heart when it needs it. It may also shock more than it should.

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your healthcare providers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment. The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

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