Implantable cardioverter defibrillators (ICDs) are implantable devices that have the ability to constantly monitor the patient’s heart rhythm, recognize life-threatening abnormal rhythms, and terminate them by delivering an electric shock to the heart, saving the patient’s life.
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All ICD’s also have pacing capabilities and are therefore similar to permanent pacemakers in many ways, including location of implantation on the chest wall and wires. But due to their additional functions and more complicated electronics, they are somewhat wider and thicker in size than permanent pacemakers.
Routine office follow up for ICDs is usually more frequent than that for pacemakers (about every 3 months). Potential problems and complications from ICDs are similar to those of pacemakers with the additional risk of delivery of electric shocks when the patient does not need them. This is fairly uncommon and when it does happen, further adjustments to the device and patient’s medications can reduce the risk of recurrence.
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