What You Need to Know:
An implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD) is a small device that monitors your heart rate and rhythm. It is placed inside your chest or abdomen. It may be used if you have a life threatening arrhythmia. An arrhythmia is an irregular heart rate or a heart rate that is too fast or too slow. Some arrhythmias may cause your heart to suddenly stop beating. An ICD can give a shock to your heart to make it start beating again. It can also make your heart beat faster or slower.
Preparing For Insertion of An ICD
Your healthcare provider will talk to you about how to prepare for surgery. You may be told not to eat or drink anything after midnight on the day of your surgery. You will be instructed on what medicines to take or not to take on the day of your surgery.
Day of Procedure
You may be given an antibiotic through your IV to help prevent a bacterial infection. You will need someone to drive you home and stay with you after the procedure.
You may be given general anesthesia to keep you asleep and free from pain during surgery. You may also be given a sedative and local anesthesia to numb the surgery area. With local anesthesia, you may still feel pressure or pushing during surgery, but you should not feel any pain. Your healthcare provider will make an incision in your chest or abdomen. A lead will be placed into a vein near your collarbone or neck and guided into your heart. You may have multiple leads placed into your heart.
The other end of the leads are attached to the generator and placed in a pocket under your skin. This pocket is usually in the shoulder area, but may also be in the abdominal area. The generator has a metal shell with a battery and a small computer. The computer will monitor your heart rate and rhythm. If the computer senses an irregular heart beat it will send electricity from the generator through the leads to your heart. These electrical shocks will make your heart beat normally. Your healthcare provider will close the incision with stitches or staples. A bandage or tape may also be placed over your incision.
After The ICD Insertion
You will be taken to a recovery room where you will rest until you are awake. You will be on a heart monitor. A heart monitor is an EKG that stays on continuously to record your heart’s electrical activity. You may need a chest x-ray to make sure the ICD is in the right place.
You will not be able to lift anything heavy. Ask your healthcare provider when you can return to work after your procedure.
You may be able to leave when you are awake and your pain is controlled or, you may go to a hospital room to spend the night.
Risks associated with pacemaker system 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 implantable pacemaker system, you will have limitations with respect to magnetic and electromagnetic fields, electric or gas-powered appliances, and tools with which you are allowed to be in contact.
By regulating the heart’s rhythm, a pacemaker can often eliminate the symptoms of bradycardia. This means individuals often have more energy and less shortness of breath. However, a pacemaker is not a cure. It will not prevent or stop heart disease, nor will it prevent heart attacks.
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