An implantable cardioverter-defibrillator (ICD) is a device that is placed under the skin of your chest. It has thin wires (called leads). Most of the time, these leads are placed inside the heart. The ICD is always checking your heart. If it detects a life-threatening rapid heart rhythm, it tries to slow the rhythm to get it back to normal. If the dangerous rhythm does not stop, the ICD sends an electric shock to the heart to restore a normal rhythm. The device then goes back to its watchful mode.
The idea of living with an ICD and getting shocked worries some people. The shock can be uncomfortable. It may feel like you are being kicked in the chest. For many people, getting a shock can cause anxiety and depression.
It's normal to be worried about living with an ICD. After all, you don't know when a shock might occur, and a shock could be a reminder that your heart is not as healthy as it could be.
But an ICD is an important part of your treatment. It can save your life. If you take a few simple steps, you can feel better about having an ICD.
Know your ICD treatment
Make an action plan
Talk to your doctor about making an action plan for what to do if you get shocked. Here is an example:
Stay calm after a shock
Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse call line if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.
Go to https://www.healthwise.net/patientEd
Enter F645 in the search box to learn more about "Learning About ICD Shocks".
Current as of: September 21, 2016
Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine
& Martin J. Gabica, MD - Family Medicine & Elizabeth T. Russo, MD - Internal Medicine & John M. Miller, MD, FACC - Cardiology, Electrophysiology
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