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Atrial Fibrillation Health Center

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Action Set
Heart Problems: Living With an ICD

An implantable cardioverter-defibrillator (ICD) helps protect you against dangerous heart rhythms. It's important to know how this device works and how to keep it working right. Learning a few important facts about ICDs can help you get the best results from your device.

You may have a device that combines an ICD with a pacemaker, which keeps your heart from beating too slowly. For more information on pacemakers, see actionset.gif Heart Problems: Living With a Pacemaker.

Key points

  • Avoid strong magnetic and electrical fields. These can keep your device from working right. Most office equipment and home appliances are safe to use. Learn which things you should use with caution and which you should stay away from.
  • Know what to do when you get a shock from your ICD.
  • Be sure that any doctor, dentist, or other health professional you see knows that you have an ICD.
  • Always carry a card in your wallet that tells what kind of device you have. Wear medical alert jewelry that says you have an ICD.
  • Have your ICD checked regularly to make sure it's working right.
  • It's common to be anxious that the ICD might shock you. But you can take steps to think positively and worry less about living with an ICD.
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Other Works Consulted

  • Lampert R, et al. (2010). HRS Expert Consensus Statement on the Management of Cardiovascular Implantable Electronic Devices (CIEDs) in patients nearing end of life or requesting withdrawal of therapy. Heart Rhythm, 7(7): 1008–1026.

  • Sears SF, et al. (2005). How to respond to an implantable cardioverter-defibrillator shock. Circulation, 111(23): e380–e382.

  • Vasquez LD, et al. (2010). Sexual health for patients with an implantable cardioverter-defibrillator. Circulation, 122(13): e465–e467.

  • Wilkoff BL, et al. (2008). HRS/EHRA expert consensus on the monitoring of cardiovascular implantable electronic devices (CIEDS): Description of techniques, indications, personnel, frequency, and ethical considerations. Heart Rhythm, 5(6): 907–925. Available online:

ByHealthwise Staff
Primary Medical ReviewerRakesh K. Pai, MD, FACC - Cardiology, Electrophysiology
Specialist Medical ReviewerStephen Fort, MD, MRCP, FRCPC - Interventional Cardiology
Last RevisedSeptember 12, 2012

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: September 12, 2012
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.

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