An ICD is a battery-powered device placed under the skin that keeps track of your heart rate. Thin wires connect the ICD to your heart. If an abnormal heart rhythm is detected the device will deliver an electric shock to restore a normal heartbeat if your heart is beating chaotically and much too fast. ICDS treatment have been very useful in preventing sudden death in patients with known, sustained ventricular tachycardia or fibrillation. The ICD is inserted just under your collar bone. It looks similar to a pacemaker and is a little bigger than a matchbox. ICDs are inserted under local anesthetic, but with sedation, so you will feel very sleepy. It can take anything from one hour to three or more hours to implant an ICD, and the time it takes will depend on the type of device you're having. You will often (but not always) need to stay overnight in hospital and your ICD will be checked thoroughly by the cardiologist before you leave. Cardiac defibrillation is described by many as feeling like a "kick in the chest." The ICD can also be programmed to function as a basic pacemaker as needed. Sometimes after a shock is delivered, the heart may beat too slowly. The ICD has a "back-up" pacemaker, which can stimulate the heart to beat faster until the normal heart rhythm returns. Additionally, an ICD can act as a pacemaker not only after a shock is delivered, but also any time the heart rate drops below a preprogrammed rate.
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