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Daily Living – Implantable Cardioverter Defibrillators

Many people with an implantable heart device resume their normal daily activities after full recovery from surgery. However, there may be certain situations that your doctor will ask you to avoid. Your doctor or nurse will provide guidance for your particular condition, but these are some general guidelines to follow after your recovery.

Exercise

You can gradually return to your normal lifestyle once your doctor says it's safe to do so. Most individuals can resume exercising after recovery.

However, you should avoid rough physical contact that could cause you to fall or hit your implant site, as this could damage the device or leads. Talk to your doctor if you have questions about specific activities.

Medtronic CareLink Network

In the continental United States, Alaska, and Hawaii, your doctor may also be able to check your implantable heart device remotely while you travel with the Medtronic CareLink® Network.

This service allows individuals to transmit information from their device to their doctor over a standard phone line with the push of a button. Ask your doctor if the Medtronic CareLink Network is available and would be right for you.
More: Medtronic CareLink Network

Travel

Most people with implanted heart devices can travel freely unless they are restricted by their underlying medical condition. With a Medtronic heart device, you can travel with the knowledge that support for your heart device is available in 120 countries globally.

The key to traveling with confidence is to plan in advance. Before you leave on your trip, talk to your doctor about:

  • Specific care or activity recommendations
  • Steps to take if you experience discomfort or symptoms
  • Finding a heart center, emergency service, or doctor at your travel destination

More: Traveling With Confidence

Airport Security Concerns

You may also have concerns about airport security systems. Before walking through an airport security gate, let security personnel know you have a heart device, and show your identification card. Then, walk through the archway at a normal pace and move away from the system if you feel any dizziness or rapid heartbeats.

Airport security systems are metal detectors, so the alarm may sound when it detects the metal case of your heart device. If airport security uses an electronic wand to clear passengers, ask the security attendant to avoid placing or waving the wand back and forth over your heart device.
More: Electromagnetic Compatibility

Medical and Dental Procedures

Before undergoing any medical procedure, always tell the doctor, dentist, or technician that you have an implanted heart device. They may need to speak with your heart doctor before performing the procedure, especially if the procedure is new or unusual.

Some procedures may potentially affect the function of your heart device, and such procedures may require precautionary measures to prevent or minimize any impact on you or your device.

Medical Procedure Warnings

People with metal implants such as an implanted heart device and accompanying leads should not receive the following medical procedures:

  • Catheter microwave ablation
  • Diathermy treatment (high frequency, short wave, or microwave)
  • MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) or MRA (magnetic resonance angiography) scan
  • Transurethral needle ablation (TUNA)

Medical Procedure Precautions

Some medical procedures can be safely performed, if certain precautions are taken by your doctor to avoid potential device function problems or interference:

  • Computerized axial tomography (CT or CAT) scan
  • Diagnostic ultrasound
  • Electrocautery
  • Electrolysis
  • External defibrillation and elective cardioversion
  • High-energy radiation therapy
  • Hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT)
  • Lithotripsy
  • Radio frequency ablation
  • Therapeutic ultrasound
  • Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS)
  • Transmitting loop for digital hearing aid

Acceptable Medical Procedures

Many medical procedures will not affect your heart device. However, the equipment used for the procedure must be used correctly and must be maintained properly.

  • Dental procedures that use drills or ultrasonic probes to clean teeth are acceptable. Dental x-rays are also acceptable.
  • Diagnostic x-rays, such as chest x-rays and mammograms, are acceptable.

Talk with your doctor to weigh any potential risk against the benefits of the medical procedure.

Electromagnetic Compatibility

Fields of energy around certain types of equipment that use electricity and magnets may affect the normal operation of your implanted heart device. The energy fields created around electrical items can be strong or weak. The closer to the item you are, the stronger the energy field.

Electromagnetic compatibility means that the electrical energy field generated by an electrical item is compatible with other electrically sensitive items, such as an implanted heart device.

Most electromagnetic energy fields are small and weak and do not affect your heart device, but electrical items with a strong energy field, like welders or gas-powered chain saws, may affect the therapy delivered by your device.

Talk to your doctor, review the electromagnetic compatibility guide, or call Heart Rhythm Patient Services, (800) 551-5544, x41835, if you have specific questions about electromagnetic compatibility.
More: Electromagnetic Compatibility

Support Groups

Some individuals find it helpful to join a support group. There are many support groups that can help with the transition to living with an implanted heart device.

Local hospitals, health maintenance organizations, community centers, and newspapers may provide information about support groups for individuals and their caregivers.

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: 22 Sep 2010

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