Heart Rhythm Center

What Is an ICD?

An implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD) is a small electronic device that is used to monitor your heart rhythm. Once it is surgically implanted into your chest, it can detect a fast or abnormal rhythm in the lower chambers of your heart and deliver energy to correct the dangerous rhythm.

Typically, an ICD will be recommended for people who:

  • Have experienced sudden cardiac arrest
  • Have experienced ventricular fibrillation
  • Have experienced ventricular tachycardia
  • Have had at least one prior heart attack
  • Have hypertrophic cardiomyopathy

There are Three Types of ICD Devices

While all implantable cardioverter defibrillators have the ability to correct a dangerous heart rhythm, there are three specific types of ICDs that can be used to address different problems in the heart. If your doctor has suggested that you get an ICD, they will explain which type is best suited for you.

  • Single Chamber ICD: an ICD lead will be attached to your right ventricle
  • Dual Chamber ICD: ICD leads will be attached to two chambers on the same side
  • Bi-Ventricular ICD: ICD leads will be attached to three chambers in the heart

Preparing for Your ICD Procedure

  • Should I keep taking my medications? Before any type of ICD procedure, your doctor will explain what types of medications you should continue or stop taking.
  • Should I avoid eating before the procedure? The night before your scheduled ICD procedure, you will not be able to eat or drink anything after midnight.
  • Where will I go for the ICD procedure? Your doctor will instruct you on when and where to arrive the day of your procedure. You can also call (408) 879-5900 if you have questions.

What Happens During an ICD Procedure?

Generally, ICD procedures take between one and three hours. The ICD will be implanted once you have been injected with numbing medication. You will also be given relaxation and pain medication intravenously. With the help of X-ray images, leads will be inserted into a vein under or near your collarbone. The leads will then be attached to a generator, which is implanted in the upper chest. Next, your new device will be tested by “shocking” your heart. You will be sedated for this.

What Happens After the Procedure?

After an ICD procedure, you will need to stay in the hospital overnight. You may experience some pain or discomfort around the incision area, as it will be tender and swollen for a few days or weeks. Your doctor will provide pain medication for this. The morning after your procedure, the ICD device will be reevaluated. If everything looks stable, your doctor will send you home with specific instructions about how to care for yourself—including medication guidelines, wound care, device care, etc.

Will I Need to Come Back for a Follow-Up Appointment?

After any type of ICD procedure, you will be expected to come back to our hospital in San Jose for a follow-up appointment. ICD therapy is only one part of a comprehensive treatment program, so it is also important that you take care of yourself after this procedure. Your doctor will want to ensure that you have made necessary dietary or lifestyle changes and that you are taking your medications.

Still have questions? Call our Heart Rhythm Center in San Jose: (408) 879-5900.

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