An Implantable Cardioverter Defibrillator (ICD) is a lifesaving device that can save your life with the grace of Allah if you have a heart rhythm problem called ventricular fibrillation.
This type of problem results in sudden, chaotic, and irregular heartbeats that aren’t effective at pumping blood throughout the body. An ICD detects the onset of ventricular fibrillation and delivers an electrical shock to restore normal heart rhythm.
The device can detect dangerous heart rhythms and then deliver a shock to your heart to reset it to a normal rhythm. It can also be programmed to give you a warning before shocking your heart or turn off automatically if it detects an abnormal rhythm that requires no intervention.
Why Might I Need it?
You might need an implantable cardioverter defibrillator if:
- You have had a heart attack or other heart problem that has caused your heart rhythm to go wrong, and your body is not getting enough blood.
- You have a condition that makes it hard for your heart to pump blood around your body.
You may also get one if:
- You have had surgery or chemotherapy treatment after cancer surgery (chemo) where the medicines could affect how well your heart works;
- You are having an operation on the part of the body where there is a risk of stopping breathing when you put off pain-killing drugs; or
Why is an Implantable Cardioverter Defibrillator Placed in Our Hearts?
An implantable cardioverter defibrillator is placed in our heart to monitor abnormal heart rhythm and corrects them instantly. We have seen that an unconscious person with cardiac arrest is shocked with an electrified paddle, and ICD also does the same thing. Still, it does it internally and automatically after detecting an abnormal heart rhythm (arrhythmia).
It is placed surgically under the patient’s skin and usually below the left collarbone. one or more insulated wires are run from the ICD through veins to the heart. It helps a patient having cardiac complications when the heart stops beating (cardiac arrest) and even when the patient is far from the nearest hospital.
How an Implantable Cardioverter Defibrillator (ICD) Works?
Wires from the heart to the device will transmit signals to the ICD if the patient has a rapid or irregular heartbeat. Then it sends electrical impulses to regulate the heartbeat. ICD could be programmed depending on the heartbeat of the patient:
When ICD responds to mild disruptions in the heart, the patient may feel nothing or a painless fluttering in the chest.
A Higher Energy Shock
The ICD will deliver a higher energy shock in case of more severe heart rhythm problems. This can be painful and make you feel like you have been kicked in the chest. This pain usually lasts for only a second, and the patient will not feel discomfort after the shock ends.
Only one shock is enough to restore a normal heartbeat. Sometimes, the patient may need two or more shocks within 24 hours. When three or more shocks are required for a patient in a short period to restore a normal heart rhythm is known as an arrhythmia storm.
Patients having an electrical storm should seek emergency care to monitor if the ICD is working correctly or if some other problems cause the heart to beat abnormally.
According to the necessity, the number and frequency of shock of the ICD are reduced by adjusting it. The patient should be treated with some medications to make the heartbeat regular and to decrease the chance of an ICD storm.
Heart activity and variations in heart rhythm are also recorded by the ICD. the information it gives will help the doctor evaluate the problem associated with the heart rhythm and reprogram the ICD by necessity.
How Is it Implanted?
The procedure is performed in an operating room. It takes about an hour, and the device is placed under the skin in a small pocket of your chest wall, just above your left nipple. The device is connected to the heart with wires called leads attached to your heart with small incisions through which they pass it.
What to Expect After the Implant
After the procedure, you’ll be able to go home immediately. You can expect minor bruising and swelling at the implant site for about a week or two.
The incision will close in about a week—if it doesn’t heal properly, you may need additional surgery to correct any issues. There are no restrictions after your device is implanted: you can resume your normal activities as soon as you feel up to it.
Will I Have to Limit My Activity?
You can still do many of the things you did before. Your doctor will tell you what activities are safe and aren’t. But here’s a general rule: If it damages your heart or makes it beat too fast, then avoid it.
Also, avoid situations that could damage your new devices, like extreme temperatures or electromagnetic fields (like those generated by cellphones and microwave ovens).
Long-term Outlook For Implantable Cardioverter Defibrillator
What is the Long-term Outlook For people with an Implantable Cardioverter defibrillator?
- You’ll have to be careful around metal detectors.
- You might be asked to remove your shirt when going through airport security.
- Your friends and family will ask you if they can touch your chest (they can).
There are a lot of unanswered questions about ICDs and their long-term effects on patients. In the early years after an ICD is implanted, about 20% of people with an ICD die from heart disease or other causes within the first year. But in later years, that rate drops to an average of 7%.
This means that the risk of dying from heart disease is lower for people who get an ICD than it is for those who don’t. Still, because no one knows precisely how good or bad these devices are over time yet, researchers aren’t able to say precisely how much less likely someone who gets one will die than someone who doesn’t get one—or even whether they’re any better at preventing sudden cardiac arrest than other treatments like surgery or drugs.
An Implantable Cardioverter Defibrillator is a device implanted in your chest to save your life. The ICD detects abnormal heart rhythms and, if necessary, delivers electrical shocks to the heart to help it return to its normal rhythm.
If you or someone you love has been diagnosed with heart failure, it’s essential to know that many treatment options are available. The best option for each individual is different, and it’s crucial to have an open dialogue with your doctor about what options might work best for your situation.
If this article has piqued your interest in learning more about implantable cardioverter defibrillators (ICDs), reach out to our team today!