Implantable Cardioverter Defibrillator


Implantable Cardioverter Defibrillator

What is a defibrillator?

This tiny battery-powered device can be surgically implanted in your chest to monitor your heart rhythm. If a dangerous arrhythmia (irregular beat) is detected, the device automatically sends a small electrical impulse in an attempt to return the heartbeat to normal. 

The process of implanting an ICD is similar to implanting a pacemaker. An ICD typically includes electrode wire(s) that pass through a vein to the right chambers of the heart. Pacemakers are more often temporary and are generally designed to correct a slow heartbeat, while ICDs are often permanent safeguards against sudden irregular heartbeats.

How is an ICD implanted?

A battery-powered pulse generator is implanted in a pouch under the skin of the chest or abdomen, often just below the collarbone.

The generator is about the size of a pocket watch. Wires or leads run from the pulse generator to positions on the surface of or inside the heart and can be installed through blood vessels, eliminating the need for open-chest surgery.

Follow-up care

You can most likely resume a near normal lifestyle. But, it is best to ask your doctor what types of machines or equipment you should avoid that could interfere with your device. Also ask what you can and cannot do when you have an ICD.

Heart Services Are Nearby

If you have any symptoms of heart attack or stroke, call 911. Do not drive yourself to the hospital. EMTs can begin life-saving care immediately before you reach the hospital.

For more information, contact your primary care provider or Traverse Heart and Vascular at 800-637-4033.