An ICD (implantable cardioverter defibrillator) is an electronic device that constantly monitors your heart rhythm. When it detects a very fast, abnormal heart rhythm, it delivers energy to the heart muscle. This causes the heart to beat in a normal rhythm again.
Why is an ICD needed?
Ventricular tachycardia and ventricular fibrillation are two life-threatening heart rhythms that cause the heart to beat very fast. These conditions can be fatal if not treated immediately.
Your doctor has recommended that you receive an ICD because you have had at least one episode of these heart rhythms or are at high risk of developing these types of heart rhythms.
Who needs an ICD?
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 and have an increased risk for sudden cardiac arrest or sudden cardiac death
- Have hypertrophic cardiomyopathy
Care of Your Implant Site
No lifting the affected arm over your head on the side the pacemaker was put in for 4 weeks. No lifting or pushing more than 10 pounds for 6 weeks. No driving for 72 hours. Keep area dry for 72 hours, then you may shower but do not scrub the area. No submerging or swimming until a scar is formed. No golf for 6 weeks. Once the wound is completely healed (about 6 weeks), you can resume any vigorous activity that your doctor allows. If you are discharged with a prescription for an antibiotic, be sure to take these until the supply is gone.
Notify Your Doctor Immediately If You Notice Fever, Pus And/Or Drainage.
You must make an appointment 1 to 2 weeks after implantation of the pacemaker to inspect the surgical incision to make sure it is well healed. Again, be sure to call if there are any concerns about the appearance of the surgical site.
Long-term Use of Your Pacemaker
- Appliances: You may operate any electrical device in your home. Modern pacemakers are seldom affected by normally operating home appliances, such as microwave ovens.
- Electric Razors: When using an electric razor, do not hold it directly over the pacemaker.
- Airport Metal Detectors: Airport metal detectors will not affect your pacemaker, although pacemakers may occasionally set off the metal detectors. If this happens, show the security guard your pacemaker identification card. The pacemaker itself is not affected by the metal detector.
- Cellular Phones: It is unlikely that a cellular phone will interfere with the pacemaker. It should be used with the hand opposite to the side where the pacemaker was implanted. The phone should not be carried near the pacemaker, and pacemaker patients should not drive while using a cell phone.
- Special Work Conditions: Patients who work near high-voltage lines, transmitting towers, large motors, or powerful magnets should discuss their specific situation with their physician. It is possible for such equipment to temporarily prevent the pacemaker from pacing. Most patients will not even be aware that this is happening. To be safe, however, pacemaker patients should keep at least 10 feet away from such equipment.
- Radiation Therapy: Should you ever require radiation therapy for any reason, care must be taken to avoid irradiating the pacemaker.
- Surgery: Finally, should you require surgery in the future; some electrosurgical devices can interfere with pacemaker function. You should discuss this with your surgeon prior to any operation.
If you have further questions or if there is something you do not understand, please call and ask us.You should also read the brochure supplied to you by the manufacturer of your pacemaker.
- MRI: Your doctor will inform you if your pacemaker is MRI compatible, but if an MRI is necessary the cardiologist and radiologist will need to communicate.