Internal Cardio-defibrillators (ICD)

Why do I need a Internal Cardio-defibrillator (ICD)?

ICDs are implanted in patients that have had, or may be at high risk of having cardiac arrests (irregular and dangerous heart rhythms). An ICD works by stopping the irregular rhythm through either a fast pacemaker or a shock to the heart to restore normal activity.

What are the risks of having a pacemaker?

Risks include: Haematoma 1-2% (a collection of blood under the skin), Pneumothorax 0.5% (air trapped next to the lung), infection1%, lead dislodgment 1%.

Can I choose if which side it goes on?

Usually pacemakers and ICDs are inserted on the left side of the chest below the collar bone as most people are right handed. If you are left handed inform the doctor or staff in the pacemaker laboratory.

Some patients may have pacemakers fitted alongside having heart surgery, in this case the pacemaker is implanted in the abdominal region and the leads attached on the outside of the heart.

What are the other options to having an ICD?

While medications play a vital role in controlling many of the irregular rhythms some patients will still need an ICD to treat the few rhythms that medications can’t.

Some patients may not like the idea of having a shock and it is something you and your family need to think about first. Discussing it with the cardiology doctor may help and a cardiac arrhythmia nurse is available to discuss the implications the ICD may have.

Who will implant my ICD?

Your cardiology consultant and their cardiology registrar with excellent experience of inserted pacemakers will insert your pacemaker.

How long will my ICD implant take?

Typically ICD implants take around 1 hour and a half but individual anatomy can make it more difficult sometimes to feed the lead(s) to your heart. Your doctor will let you know if it is taking longer than expect to keep you at ease. If you are uncomfortable inform the doctor or pacemaker team and sedation and pain relief may be able to be given.

How long will the ICD last?

ICDs last around 3 – 5 years depending on what settings are on the ICD and how much you use it.

When the battery is found to be low you will be listed for a new ICD which is done in a similar way to your first ICD but uses the existing leads in your heart.