Sudden Cardiac Arrest advice

After an ICD implant

Living with an Implantable Cardioverter Defibrillator (ICD)

Most people resume their normal daily activities after receiving an implantable defibrillator, participating in the same activities they enjoyed prior to the implant.

Defibrillator lifestyle changes:

  • Protection provided by the device helps restore confidence and freedom.
  • Restrictions (avoiding certain situations) may be indicated, which are usually determined by your overall health, by your doctor and/or country laws (for example, a rapid heart rhythm may cause loss of consciousness. This could be dangerous when driving a car, boat, or other vehicle, swimming alone, or climbing a ladder).

Lifestyle changes such as diet, exercise and avoiding stress -- while extremely important at all stages of life for controlling coronary heart disease -- will not change or reverse the underlying heart rhythm disorder (Ventricular Tachycardia (VT) or Ventricular Fibrillation (VF)) for which implantable defibrillators are prescribed.

Receiving defibrillation therapy

When your ICD delivers therapy, it does what it was designed to do -- protect you from sudden cardiac arrest (SCA).

After initial implant, it is common for people to need time to adjust to living with an ICD and to accept the fact that they will receive therapy when needed. People with ICDs report that it is especially helpful during that adjustment to:

  • Understand device therapy and stay informed.
  • Have an action plan in the event that your device delivers therapy:
    • Carry a defibrillator identification card in an easy-to-find place such as a wallet - ask your doctor or follow-up clinic for more information
    • Carry a list of your medication and dosage
    • Keep emergency phone numbers in an easy-to-find place
    • Know what to do when the defibrillator delivers a shock
    • Inform significant co-workers, traveling companions, etc., of the defibrillator
    • When traveling by air, inform airline security personnel of the defibrillator
    • Encourage family members to take a cardiopulmonary resuscitation course
  • Make use of all support networks (family, friends, support group, counseling, etc.)
  • Practice coping strategies, such as relaxation and regular physical exercise

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