Overview

An implantable cardioverter-defibrillator (ICD) — a pager-sized device — is placed in your chest to reduce your risk of dying if the lower chambers of your heart (ventricles) go into a dangerous rhythm and stop beating effectively (cardiac arrest).

You might need an ICD if you have a dangerously fast heartbeat (ventricular tachycardia) or a chaotic heartbeat that keeps your heart from supplying enough blood to the rest of your body (ventricular fibrillation).

ICDs detect and stop abnormal heartbeats (arrhythmias). The device continuously monitors your heartbeat and delivers electrical pulses to restore a normal heart rhythm when necessary.

An ICD differs from a pacemaker — another implantable device used to help control abnormal heart rhythms.

June 14, 2016
References
  1. Implantable cardioverter defibrillator. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/dci/Diseases/icd/icd_all.html. Accessed April 4, 2016.
  2. Ganz LI. General principles of the implantable cardioverter-defibrillator. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed April 4, 2016.
  3. Epstein AE, et al. 2012 ACC/AHA/HRS focused update incorporated into the ACC/AHA/HRS 2008 guidelines for device-based therapy of cardiac rhythm abnormalities. Circulation. 2013;127:e283.
  4. Devices that may interfere with implantable cardioverter defibrillators (ICDs). American Heart Association. http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/Conditions/Arrhythmia/PreventionTreatmentofArrhythmia/Devices-that-may-Interfere-with-Implantable-Cardioverter-Defibrillators-ICDs_UCM_448464_Article.jsp. Accessed April 4, 2016.
  5. Living with your implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD). http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/Conditions/Arrhythmia/PreventionTreatmentofArrhythmia/Living-With-Your-Implantable-Cardioverter-Defibrillator-ICD_UCM_448462_Article.jsp. American Heart Association. Accessed April 4, 2016.
  6. AskMayoExpert. Implanted cardiac devices. Rochester, Minn.: Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research; 2015.
  7. Ganz LI. Implantable cardioverter-defibrillators: Complications. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed April 4, 2016.
  8. Knight BP. Patient information: Implantable cardioverter-defibrillators (beyond the basics). http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed April 4, 2016.