About Implantable Defibrillators

An implantable cardiac defibrillator is (ICD) is about the same size as a pager. It is worn internally to continuously monitor the heart. Like a pacemaker, the ICD can send a signal to a heart that is not beating quickly enough. It can also administer an electric shock to correct a situation where the heart is beating too rapidly.

How an Implantable Cardiac Defibrillator Works

The ICD is positioned in the chest, near the collarbone. Wires connect the device to the heart. The ICD provides continuous monitoring of the heart, and takes steps to correct any abnormalities in the heart rate or rhythm.

Who Needs a ICD?

A person who has or is experiencing irregular heartbeats may be a good candidate for a ICD. Another case where the doctor may recommend a ICD is where the patient has had a heart attack that has damaged the heart’s electrical system. Some patients with congenital heart defects or in heart failure may be outfitted with a ICD as well.

After the ICD is in Place

A patient with a ICD in place will need to have regular follow-up care from his or her primary care physician. Any other doctors or dentists involved in that person’s care should be informed about the ICD.

A person with a ICD implant should carry an ID card indicating this fact. If they require care at a hospital, medical personnel need to be informed before treatment begins.

Having a ICD in place means the individual should stay away from strong magnets. If traveling by air, the person should advise security personnel about the device and request that a hand-held metal detector not be used to screen for hidden devices.

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