What You Need to Know About Defibrillators
A defibrillator typically is implanted in the upper chest. An implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD) is a tiny computer, plus a battery, contained in a small titanium metal case that is about the size of a pocket watch. It weighs approximately 3 ounces.
The ICD is implanted under your skin, typically on the left or right side of your chest, just below the collarbone. In addition to the device itself, leads (tiny insulated wires) are implanted for two purposes: to carry information signals from your heart to the heart device, and when necessary, to carry electrical impulses to your heart.
The third part of your implantable device system is a programmer, an external computer located in your doctor’s office or clinic that is used to program the heart device and retrieve information from your device that will assist your doctor in your treatment.
Living with heart disease can be frightening, and for some it means being at risk for dangerously fast and potentially life-threatening heart rates. Fortunately, an implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD) can provide protection and life-saving therapy, giving you greater peace of mind to live life.
An ICD is designed to treat dangerously fast heart rates. It continuously monitors your heart and restores your heart to its normal rate. It’s like having an emergency response team with you 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Risks associated with an ICD implant include, but are not limited to, infection at the surgical site and/or sensitivity to the device material, failure to deliver therapy when it is needed, or receiving extra therapy when it is not needed.
After receiving an ICD, you will have limitations with respect to magnetic and electromagnetic radiation, electric or gas-powered appliances, and tools with which you are allowed to be in contact.
Treatment with an ICD is prescribed by your doctor. This treatment is not for everyone. Please talk to your doctor to see if it is right for you.
Your doctor should discuss all potential benefits and risks with you. Although many individuals benefit from the use of this treatment, results may vary.