Defibrillators (ICDs)

An Implantable Cardioverter Defibrillator (ICD) is like a pacemaker in that it is an implanted, battery-operated device. This device constantly monitors the heart rate and rhythm and will deliver an electrical shock to re-establish a normal heart rhythm if it senses a life-threatening rhythm disturbance.

implantable cardioverter defibrillator


Patients who may need an ICD:

  • People who have an episode of sudden cardiac death or ventricular fibrillation
  • People who have had a heart attack and are at high risk for sudden cardiac death
  • People who have hypertrophic cardiomyopathy and are at high risk
  • People with at least one episode of ventricular tachycardia

What to Expect

Modern ICDs can distinguish between fast heart beat, ventricular fibrillation, and ventricular tachycardia and can pace the heart to avoid a heart attack. In addition, new technologies allow for the ICD to be placed just below the skin, rather than on or near the heart, to avoid some of the concerns earlier technologies posed. This also enables the ICD to be implanted during a more simple procedure, rather than during a surgery with full sedation.


The preparation, procedures, and follow-up are the same as the pacemaker.
You will need to arrange for transportation home after the procedure. You may not eat or drink for 4-6 hours prior to the procedure.

Implantable defibrillators allow patients to live a full life with many normal activities. Read more in “Living with an implantable defibrillator: Your guide to a full life”.

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