Implantable Cardioverter Defibrillator (ICD)
A medical device used in tachyarrhythmia patients to normalise heart rhythms
What is it?
An ICD or Implantable Cardioverter Defibrillator is an electronic device implanted under the skin to detect and send electrical impulses to your heart to slow abnormally fast heart rhythms.
Why might I need it?
People who experience a fast heart rate above 100 beats per minute are said to have tachyarrhythmia or tachycardia. In some cases, a tachyarrhythmia may cause no symptoms or complications, while for others it can lead to an increased risk of stroke or sudden cardiac arrest. Depending on the underlying cause, and how much harder the heart has to work, it can be a dangerous condition.
What should I expect?
- Your cardiologist may prescribe a sedative before the procedure, and most procedures are conducted under general anaesthetic or sedation
- A nurse will shave the area of your chest where the ICD will be implanted
- An ECG and blood pressure monitor will be used to track your heart rate and blood pressure
- The ICD will be placed just below your collar bone under the skin and its electrodes inserted into a vein that are then attached to the heart muscle using a 1mm screw
- The incision will be sealed with sutures and a waterproof dressing
- You will generally spend the night in hospital before being discharged and will need to see your GP 7-10 days later to remove the dressing and check healing of the incision
How should I prepare?
Do not eat or drink anything for 6 hours before your procedure (Diabetics should speak to their cardiologist about food and insulin intake requirements)
Ask your cardiologist whether to withhold any medications (especially blood thinners) prior to your procedure, and bring a complete list of current medications with you on the day
Make sure you read the consent form and understand the risks involved with this procedure. Please clarify any concerns or queries about this procedure with your cardiologist before signing this form
What happens next?
Contact your cardiologist or GP to report any signs of infection, including swelling, redness, pain or fever. To allow the electrode wires to firmly attach to the heart, you will need to limit the movement of your arm on the side of the implant for a few weeks. Before leaving the hospital, you will be given an ICD identification card which you will need to carry with you and show to airport personnel if you travel, as your ICD may affect or be affected by airport security devices. Your ICD will not be affected or interfere with home appliances.
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