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Implantable Cardioverter Defibrillator

An ICD (implantable cardioverter defibrillator) is an electronic device that constantly monitors the heart rhythm. When ICD detects a very fast heart rhythm, it delivers energy to the heart muscle which causes the heart to beat in a normal rhythm again. This pager-sized device implanted in chest reduces the risk you dying if your heart goes into a dangerous rhythm and stops beating (cardiac arrest). In case of a rapid heartbeat, the wires from your heart to the device transmit signals to the ICD, which sends electrical pulses to regulate the heartbeat. Depending on the problem with your heartbeat, the ICD can be programmed for these therapies:

  • Low-energy pacing therapy: During mild disruptions in your heartbeat, you may feel either nothing or a painless fluttering in your chest when the ICD responds to it.
  • Cardioversion therapy: A higher energy shock is delivered to deal with a more serious heart rhythm problem. This shock may feel like you are being thumped in the chest.
  • Defibrillation therapy: This is the strongest form of electrical therapy used to restore a normal heartbeat and during this therapy you may feel as if you're being kicked in the chest. The pain only last for a few seconds.

    An ICD may be recommended for people who:

    • Had a prior episode of sudden cardiac arrest
    • Had a prior episode of ventricular fibrillation
    • Had at least one episode of ventricular tachycardia
    • Had a prior heart attack.
    • Has a heart condition that involves abnormal heart muscle
    • Has an inherited heart defect that makes the heart beat abnormally.