ICDs are useful in preventing sudden death in patients with known, sustained ventricular tachycardia or fibrillation . Studies have shown ICDs to have a role in preventing cardiac arrest in high-risk patients who haven’t had, but are at risk for, life-threatening ventricular arrhythmias. Newer-generation ICDs may have a dual function which includes the ability to serve as a pacemaker. The pacemaker feature would stimulate the heart to beat if the heart rate is detected to be too slow.
An ICD is a battery-powered device placed under the skin that keeps track of your heart rate. Thin wires connect the ICD to your heart, if an abnormal heart rhythm is detected the device will deliver an electric shock to restore a normal heartbeat when your heart is beating chaotically. ICDs have been very useful in preventing sudden death in patients with known, sustained ventricular tachycardia or fibrillation. Studies have shown that they may have a role in preventing cardiac arrest in high-risk patients who haven’t had, but are at risk for, life-threatening ventricular arrhythmias.
An ICD is implanted in a pouch under the skin of the chest or abdomen. The generator is about the size of a pocket watch, wires run from the pulse generator to position on the surface of or inside the heart and can be installed through blood vessels, eliminating the need for open chest surgery. After the ICD is installed it can tell when the heartbeat is to fast and tries to return it to normal with a defibrillation shock. If the ICD has a pacemaker feature, it will send tiny electrical signals to your heart 24 hours a day. Most ICD’s today offer a host of sophisticated functions such as storage of detected arrhythmic events and the ability to perform electrophysiological testing. This stored information can help your doctor optimize the ICD for your needs.