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An Implantable Cardioverter Defibrillator (ICD) is an implanted device that continuously monitors the individual's heart rhythm, delivering shocks to the heart when it detects life-threatening arrhythmias.

ICDs are used in patients who are at risk of ventricular tachycardia, which is a fast rhythm of the heart that begins in the ventricles of the heart. It is also used in patients who have ventricular fibrillation, which is a condition where the cardiac muscles tremble instead of properly contracting. When ICDs detect ventricular tachycardia or fibrillation, it is designed to shock the heart in order to restore a normal rhythm. Some ICD devices are programmed to record arrhythmic events, which allow physicians to monitor the patient and develop treatment plans. Certain ICDs can also pace the heart back into rhythm without having to shock the heart muscle.

How Defibrillators Operate

ICDs can range in size from the size of a wallet to more advanced devices that are the size of a pager. ICDs are implanted underneath the collarbone. The ICD has a battery and a pulse generator, which is connected to wires or "leads" that lead to the heart muscle. The pulse generator and batteries are sealed in a container and placed underneath the skin, near the shoulder area.

Ways Defibrillators Impact One's Life

Individuals with ICDs can lead fulfilling lives, but there are some restrictions on certain physical activities. In particular, patients who have ICDs implanted should not engage in sports that can damage the ICD. Additionally, patients should not place severe strain on the shoulder and arm area where the ICD is implanted, because the ICD or the wires leading to the heart can be damaged.

Electronic devices such as MP3 players and devices that contain magnets should be kept at a distance from the ICD, at least a half-foot distance. Also, ICDs can be affected by devices that use large magnets or that generate magnetic fields, such as microwaves.

Successes and Challenges of ICDs

ICDs, according to the American Heart Association, have been helpful in preventing deaths of patients suffering from ventricular tachycardia or fibrillation. However, ICDs can malfunction, which can have life-threatening consequences. For example, ICDs can short circuit, which means that the patient does not receive the necessary shock to put the heart back into proper rhythm, or the battery can prematurely deplete. To see an article discussing a manufacturer's recall of ICDs that have malfunctioned, see the Guidant Article. Also, "leads" can be defective-to see an article discussing the recall of faulty leads produced by Medtronic, see the Medtronic Article.

If you or someone you love has had an ICD implanted, and you suspect the device has malfunctioned and caused an injury, contact Anderson Law Offices, LLC for a free initial consultation.

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Anderson Law Offices, LLC 17138 Lorain Avenue, Suite 211 | Cleveland, OH 44111
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