Medically Reviewed by Prabal K. Guha, MD
The Implantable Cardioverter Defibrillator or ICD can bring extra years of life to certain heart patients by essentially shocking their heart back into action if they stop.
HOW IT WORKS
“The battery-powered device (about the size of box of Tic-Tac mints) is inserted under the skin and monitors the patient’s heart,” says McLeod Electrophysiologist Dr. Prabal Guha. “If the ICD detects an abnormal heart rhythm – too fast or erratic — it delivers electrical pulses or a shock, restoring a normal heart beat.”
WHO NEEDS IT
Your Cardiologist or Electrophysiologist may suggest an ICD if the ventricular rhythm (heart’s lower chamber) threatens your life as the result of:
If you have one of the above conditions, a cardiologist will start a series of tests to identify and isolate your risk, including:
Forty percent of ICD patients are age 70 or older and about ten percent are aged 80 or older. The older the patient the poorer the survival rate, probably due to additional health issues the older patient might have.
ACTION YOU CAN TAKE
If your medical condition requires an ICD, it’s important that you stay active. A study in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that the most active ICD patients tended to live longer. Activity, as simple as walking, ranged from 30-minutes a day on the low side to 3 hours a day on the high side. After four years, 90% of patients recording the highest level of activity were still living, about twice the number of those who had low levels of activity.
Sources include: McLeod Health, American Hospital Association, American Heart Association, Journal of the American Medical Association, Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality & Outcomes, National Institutes of Health, British Heart Foundation