Implantable Cardioverter Defibrillator (ICD)

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A dangerous heart rhythm problem can put you at risk of sudden cardiac arrest. Having an implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD) can prevent the worst from happening. This small, battery-operated device monitors the heart’s rhythm and keeps it beating correctly. 

If your heart slows down, the ICD can speed it up to normal. If your heart begins to beat unnaturally, the device can shock your heart back to a normal rhythm.

Why ICD Care at UVA Health?

This device wires up to your heart. You need it to work — and to keep working. Our heart surgery and rhythm experts offer the kind of specialty training and experience you can't get everywhere. 

ICDS From a UVA Cardiologist

ICDs can both restore normal rhythm with painless pacing and, if necessary, provide an electric shock to prevent patients from dying suddenly from very fast heart rhythms. View ICD's transcript.

Types of ICDs

Medtronic Evera MRI SureScan® ICD System

This ICD allows patients to get routine MRIs. 

ICD Alternative: Under the Skin, Not Through the Veins

Most ICDs have leads that go through chest veins and touch the heart. The Subcutaneous Implantable Defibrillator (S-ICD) uses a defibrillation wire that goes under the skin in the chest rather than through the veins. 

These devices don't have the capacity to pace the heart and can only treat dangerous heart rhythms with shocks.

Having the ICD Implanted

The procedure doesn't last long. Your hospital stay will only last 1 to 3 days. We'll keep checking to make sure the device works before sending you home.

When the Device is Active 

ICD shocks could feel like a light thump or a strong kick in the chest. You may feel lightheaded before the shock. Try to stay calm. Sit or lie down. Let your provider know.

Your doctor may want you to come in for a check-up, particularly if this is the first shock you have received.

If you have multiple shocks in a row or in a day, you should go to the emergency room.