Implantable Cardioverter-Defibrillator (ICD)

Your Cross County Cardiology – Mount Sinai cardiologist may determine that you have an irregular heartbeat, called an arrhythmia. A heartbeat can be too fast, too slow, or even too erratic.

If you have an arrhythmia, one possible treatment is inserting a permanent device into your chest. This can be a pacemaker or an implantable cardioverter-defibrillator (ICD).

Both devices release electrical impulses to restore a regular heartbeat. Pacemakers release low-energy electrical impulses. By contrast, an ICD can be programmed to continually monitor your heart rhythm and release either low-energy pulses or high-energy pulses, whichever is more appropriate.

For this reason, if you have a history of cardiac arrest, an ICD may be more suitable as you might need a powerful, high-energy shock to restore your regular heartbeat.

What to Expect During an ICD Procedure

Installing an ICD in your chest or abdomen is a surgical procedure, much like installing a pacemaker. Once the ICD has been implanted in your chest, it will monitor your heart’s electrical activity for any irregularities. Your doctor can program the device to provide the best assistance. If you have a mildly irregular heartbeat, your ICD can provide low-energy pacing therapy. If you have a more serious arrhythmia, we may program the device to perform cardioversion therapy. If you have a serious cardiac event, your ICD can perform defibrillation therapy to restore your heartbeat.

Implanting either a pacemaker or an ICD is not a light decision. You should discuss the advantages of both technologies with your cardiologist before making a decision. If you have an ICD implanted, your doctor will carefully monitor its functionality in follow-up appointments.