You've likely seen TV shows in which hospital workers "shock" an unconscious person out of cardiac arrest with electrified paddles. An ICD does the same thing only internally and automatically when it detects an abnormal heart rhythm.
An ICD is surgically placed under your skin, usually below your left collarbone. One or more flexible, insulated wires (leads) run from the ICD through your veins to your heart.
Because the ICD constantly monitors for abnormal heart rhythms and instantly tries to correct them, it helps when your heart stops beating (cardiac arrest), even when you are far from the nearest hospital.
How an ICD works
When you have a rapid heartbeat, the wires from your heart to the device transmit signals to the ICD, which sends electrical pulses to regulate your heartbeat. Depending on the problem with your heartbeat, your ICD could be programmed for:
✓ Low-energy pacing. You may feel nothing or a painless fluttering in your chest when your ICD responds to mild disruptions in your heartbeat.
✓ A higher-energy shock. For more-serious heart rhythm problems, the ICD may deliver a higher-energy shock. This shock can be painful, possibly making you feel as if you've been kicked in the chest. The pain usually lasts only a second, and there shouldn't be discomfort after the shock ends.
Usually, only one shock is needed to restore a normal heartbeat. Sometimes, however, you might have two or more shocks during a 24-hour period.
Having three or more shocks in a short time period is known as an electrical or arrhythmia storm. If you have an electrical storm, you should seek emergency care to see if your ICD is working properly or if you have a problem that's making your heart beat abnormally.
If necessary, the ICD can be adjusted to reduce the number and frequency of shocks. You may need additional medications to make your heart beat regularly and decrease the chance of an ICD storm.
An ICD can also record the heart's activity and variations in rhythm. This information helps your doctor evaluate your heart rhythm problem and, if necessary, reprogram your ICD.
✓ Transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR / TAVI)
✓ Transcatheter mitral valve replacement (TMVR)
✓ Transcatheter tricuspid valve replacement (TTVR)
✓ Transcatheter mitra clip replacement (TMCR)
✓ Perutaneous balloon mitral valvuloplasty (BMV)
✓ Coronary angiography
✓ Percutaneous coronary angioplasty (PTCA)
✓ Balloon aortic valvuloplasty (BAV)
✓ Abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA)
✓ Implantatble cardioverter-defibrillator (ICD)
✓ Cardiac resynchronization therapy (CRT)
✓ Permanent pacemaker implantation (PPI)