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Abnormal Heart Rhythms and Implantable Cardioverter Defibrillators (ICD)


What Should I Do if I Get Shocked?

If you get shocked by your ICD:

  • Stay calm.
  • Sit or lie down. Ask someone to stay with you.
  • If you do not feel well after the shock, call your doctor or an ambulance (dial 911 in most areas).
  • If you feel fine after the shock, you do not need to seek immediate medical attention.
  • Call your doctor within 24 hours.

If someone is touching you when the ICD fires, they may feel a tingling sensation; this is not harmful to them.

When Should I Call My Doctor About My ICD?

Call your doctor about your ICD if:

  • You receive 2 or more shocks in a 48-hour period.
  • You lose consciousness before receiving a shock.
  • You have swelling, bleeding, redness, warmth, or drainage at the implant site.
  • You have numbness or tingling of the arm closest to your ICD.
  • Any part of the device or leads is visible or protruding through the skin.
  • You have a fever or chills within 6 weeks to 8 weeks after the implant procedure.


How Often Do I Need to See My Doctor?

Regular follow-up is important after an ICD implant. Your doctor will tell you how often you will need to have the ICD checked. During ICD checks, the doctor will determine if the ICD has detected or treated any abnormal heart rhythms and will check the ICD battery. These visits are very important. You will also need to see a cardiologist at least once a year.

How Long Does an ICD Last?

A defibrillator lasts three years to six years, depending on how often it delivers a shock. When you need your ICD changed, you will be admitted to the hospital for the procedure. An incision is made above the ICD and the ICD is removed. The leads are tested. If the function of the leads is acceptable, they will be attached to a new generator. Otherwise, new leads may be inserted.



WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by James Beckerman, MD, FACC on February 15, 2012
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