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Implantable Cardiac Defibrillators

An implantable cardiac defibrillator (ICD) is a small, battery-powered device that can detect when a patient’s heart is beating dangerously fast and deliver a life-saving electrical shock. Implanted under the skin just below the collarbone, it contains a pulse generator which is comprised of a computer, a battery and lead wires.

The leads are in contact with the heart muscle on one end, and the pulse generator on the other end. The ICD helps detect when a patient’s heart is beating dangerously fast and delivers a life-saving electrical shock, often described by patients as a “kick in the chest,” which returns the rapid heart rate back to a normal rhythm. The devices can also act as pacemakers and can prevent too slow heart rhythms by delivering pacing signals to the heart muscle.

Subcutaneous Implantable Cardiac Defibrillators

A more recent technology, called a subcutaneous implantable cardiac defibrillator (S-ICD), provides life-saving intervention to patients without touching the patient’s heart. Unlike a regular ICD, there are no wires attached to the heart and the technique used to implant the device is also less invasive. If a patient’s heart were to stop or experience a dangerous rhythm, the device would deliver an electrical signal to the heart with the goal of restoring the patient’s heart to normal rhythm and saving his/her life.

The S-ICD device has obvious benefits for patients, including increased lifestyle flexibility and a less complex surgery requiring a smaller incision to implant it. The device is ideal for patients who are young and active, have congenital heart conditions or who are at risk for dislodging the wires of a traditional implantable defibrillator. Summa Health physicians implanted the first S-ICD in Ohio used outside of a clinical trial.

Routine Monitoring and Follow-Up Care

As with pacemakers, ICDs require routine monitoring and follow-up care to ensure the device continues to function properly. Summa Health’s Cardiac Device Clinic monitors patients who have an implantable device. Your cardiologist can learn valuable information about how your heart and the device are working – and can make adjustments if necessary.

To learn more about pacemakers or other implantable devices available as part of Summa Health's cardiac care, call for an appointment today.


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If your situation is an emergency, call 911.