Implantable Cardioverter Defibrillators (ICDs)

An Implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD) is a small device that’s placed in the chest or abdomen. Doctors use the device to help treat certain types of abnormal heartbeat rhythms which can be life threatening.

An ICD uses electrical pulses or shocks to help treat life-threatening arrhythmias, especially those that can cause sudden cardiac death (SCD). It is a device, which is implanted under the skin, attached to leads, which are placed inside the heart chambers for electrical contact.

Categories of patients in whom an ICD is recommended include the following:

  • Patients who have experienced one or more episodes of spontaneous, sustained VT or VF (if it is not due to a transient or reversible cause).
  • Certain patients who have not had prior episodes of VT or VF, but are at high risk for one of these arrhythmias. The estimated risk for these arrhythmias is based upon a combination of several risk factors (for example, prior heart attacks, severely reduced heart function, cardiomyopathy, congenital heart disease, and/or advanced heart failure). ?People who have a combination of risk factors may be referred for additional tests, including an electrophysiology study, to determine if an ICD is necessary.