Implantable Cardiac Defibrillator (ICD)

Occurrence of arrhythmia

Arrhythmia occurs in the ventricles and hinders the heart from effectively pumping blood. The condition can make one to pass out within a few seconds and die within minutes if not treated. Prevention of death requires immediate treatment using an electric shock/pulse to the heart. An ICD wire is equipped with wires that have electrodes on either ends connecting to the heart’s chambers.

The ICD is used to monitor the heart rhythm and whenever it detects an irregularity in ventricle rhythms, it initiates low energy electric pulses in order to restore normal heartbeat rhythms. When the low energy pulses fail to restore regular heartbeat, the ICD switches to high energy pulses in defibrillation. The device also switches to high energy pulses in instances where the ventricle begins to quiver instead of strongly contracting. Although they only last a fraction of a second, the high energy pulses are painful.

People who need ICDs

People who have suffered a life threatening abnormal heart rhythm are always at risk of facing the same situation again. Additionally, there are those who despite not having suffered a life threatening heart rhythm have undergone tests that have revealed that they are at risk.

This can be as a result of some genetic disorder or conditions such as Cardiomyopathy, Long QT syndrome or even Brugada Syndrome. Some people also face other heart conditions such as heart failure and are at risk of suffering from a life-threatening abnormal heart rhythm.

Fitting an ICD

An ICD is fit under local anaesthetic, but with some form of sedation, and hence one is likely to feel extremely sleepy. It takes anything between an hour to more than three to implant ICD.

Conventionally, the time taken also depends on the type of device to be implanted. People who have undergone the procedure may be required to spend a night at the hospital to ensure it is completely checked prior to leaving the hospital.

How to live with an ICD

Although not a major difference, an ICD definitely leads to some changes. Most importantly, one is required to regularly honour appointments for check up to ensure any complications are recognized early enough.

Appointments may last up to 12 months depending on the ICD type used. In some cases, the appointments may last a lifetime. Some changes in life may also be required. For instance, engagement in sports or driving may be limited. These changes are important and hence should be loyally followed.