Implantable Cardioverter-Defibrillator

An implantable cardioverter-defibrillator (ICD) is a battery-powered device that can correct an abnormal heart rhythm and prevent sudden death. The ICD is placed inside the chest, just under the skin. Like your own personal watchman, an ICD is always checking your heart rate and rhythm.

If the ICD detects a life-threatening rapid heartbeat, it tries to slow the rhythm down. If the dangerous rhythm does not stop, the ICD sends an electric shock to the heart to restore a normal rhythm.

An ICD also can fix a heart rate that is too fast or too slow without using a shock. It can send electrical pulses to speed up a heart rate that is too slow. Or it can slow down a fast heart rate by matching the pace and bringing the heart rate back to normal.

Your doctor will place the ICD in your chest during minor surgery, using local anesthesia. This means that you will be awake but feel no pain. You also will likely have medicine to make you feel relaxed and sleepy. Your doctor will make a small cut in your upper chest and thread wires to the heart.

Your Mercy heart team will work closely with you to review options and precautions of having an ICD. We will provide all the care needed – from surgery through ongoing checkups – to ensure your ICD is working properly and give you the peace of mind to live life to its fullest.

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