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Questions and Answers – Getting an Implantable Cardioverter Defibrillator

If your doctor has advised you that an implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD) is the best course of treatment, you may have a variety of questions and concerns.

Here are some common topics of interest to individuals considering an implantable heart device:

What should I expect during implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD) surgery?

The procedure to implant a heart device is usually quick, and typically done under local anesthesia. It does not require open-heart surgery, and most people go home within 24 hours.

Your doctor will provide more detailed information, but most individuals can expect to gradually return to their everyday activities shortly after the procedure.

What is it like to receive a shock?

Experiencing a shock from an ICD can be a concern for many individuals.

You may feel fine afterward, or you may feel dizzy, sick, or disoriented after the shock occurs. It's important to talk to your doctor and have a plan in place so that you know exactly what to do when you experience a shock. Your doctor may want you to call in, transmit your information using the CareLink® Network, or schedule an appointment after you've had a shock.

Will the device affect my appearance?

Sometimes individuals wonder if there will be a noticeable bulge where the heart device was implanted. In general, you may notice a slight bump under your skin where your ICD is located.

Will I have to change my lifestyle?

An implantable heart device allows many individuals to return to the activities they enjoy. Your doctor will provide more information on activities you may need to avoid, but people typically resume their normal daily activities after full recovery from surgery.

Where can I find additional resources?

There are many resources available individuals living with a heart condition. Individuals who have an implanted heart device can call Heart Rhythm Patient Services, (800) 551-5544, x41835.

Information on this site should not be used as a substitute for talking with your doctor. Always talk with your doctor about diagnosis and treatment information.

Last updated: 2 Jul 2012

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