What is an implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD)

Dangers of sudden cardiac arrest

Sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) is an electrical problem with the heart that causes a dangerously fast heartbeat (ventricular fibrillation). If not treated immediately, SCA is usually fatal. If you’re at risk for SCA, an ICD is the best treatment option available.


Expand All

What is an ICD?

An ICD is a device that is implanted under the skin. If your doctor told you that you need an ICD, you may have experienced or may be at risk of having abnormal heartbeats (arrhythmias) called ventricular tachycardia or ventricular fibrillation, which can cause SCA. During SCA, an ICD delivers lifesaving treatment on its own, often in less than 10 seconds.

Watch the video to learn more.

An ICD system has two parts: the defibrillator and the lead(s)

  1. A defibrillator continuously monitors the heart and automatically corrects heart rhythms.
  2. Leads are thin, soft, insulated wires about the size of a spaghetti noodle. They carry the electrical impulse from the ICD to your heart and send information about the heart’s natural activity back to the ICD.

There are different types of ICDs, including transvenous and extravascular. These are explained below.

Medtronic extravascular implantable cardioverter defibrillator (EV-ICD) with numbered callouts

As with any medical procedure, there are benefits and risks with implantable cardiac device therapy. Talk to your doctor to determine if an ICD is right for you.

What is a transvenous ICD?

What is an extravascular ICD?

Living with an ICD

ICD risks

Get Heart Device Answers.

Visit HeartDeviceAnswers.com, an interactive website full of questions and answers about living with a heart device.

Follow us on Facebook.

Visit the Medtronic Heart Facebook page and explore updates and information regarding Medtronic heart devices.

Remote monitoring

Remote monitoring is a way for your implanted heart device to communicate with your doctor or clinic, potentially lowering the number of times you have to travel to your clinic for a device check.

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.