An implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD) is a small device implanted in your chest or abdomen. Small wires (leads) connect the ICD to your heart. An ICD treats abnormally fast heart rates or rhythms (arrhythmias), especially those that can cause your heart to stop beating.
And ICD also may be called an automatic implantable cardioverter defibrillator (AICD).
When the heart develops an irregular rhythm, an ICD gives your heart a small electrical charge to restore a normal heartbeat. ICDs can also provide a stronger shock to your heart if a dangerous arrhythmia occurs. In these life-threatening arrhythmias, your heart quivers instead of beating, which can lead to syncope (fainting) or sudden cardiac death.
Before you get an ICD, your doctor may do tests, such as an electrophysiology study. This test can help determine if you have a type of heart rhythm problem that the defibrillator can treat.
If needed, most ICDs also function as pacemakers, implanted devices that regulate heartbeat. We can custom-program the ICD to help ensure that your heart beats in a regular pattern to best treat your condition.
At Aurora, our heart specialists offer you:
Your Aurora surgeon will give you personalized instructions on how to get ready for your procedure. Here’s how we typically ask people to prepare:
Don’t eat or drink anything after midnight on the night before your implantation procedure. Before you come in:
You’ll come to an Aurora lab or a special surgical suite for your ICD implantation. In most cases, we’ll have your ICD installed and working in about two hours. You’ll most likely be awake for the procedure.
During the procedure:
After your ICD is in place, we’ll monitor your heart using an EKG to be sure the device is custom-programmed and working properly. We’ll keep you in the hospital for several hours, or perhaps overnight, to make sure you’re recovering well.
We may ask you to wear a sling on the arm that is close to your defibrillator as a reminder to be careful while you recover. If you work, you may want to take a few days off to rest and recover.
You might feel a bit sore right after the procedure, but the pain will go away with time. Talk to your doctor about which pain medications you can safely use.
Other things to keep in mind: