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Is Implantable Cardioverter Defibrillators painful?

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I was told by doctors to have implanted with ICD (Implantable Cardioverter Defibrillators). I know what it is and what it does. But what I wish to know is, whether it is painful? How much pain it can cause, if I go for it? Please explain.

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Category: Family Physician-GP
 24 Doctors Online

Thank you for consulting with us at Doctorspring. I believe you have done considerable reading over your problems. As you may know, ICD's can detect arrhythmias of the atria or ventricles: a condition where the heart is unable to pump blood efficiently due to faulty electrical conduction within the heart. There are several condition both inherited and those appearing later in life which can cause arrhythmias. These can be treated either with drugs or ICD's. Considerable amount of literature has proved that ICD’s are superior to drugs for treating proven indications in quality and longevity of life.

To reduce complications post surgery, now, even subcutaneous ICD's are available where the machine itself is placed in a pocket created in your skin and electrodes will pass through the large blood vessels to reach the heart. An ICD is similar to the external defibrillator which you may have seen being used in movies or tv shows. It administers a shock to your heart when your heart goes out of rhythm. When the ICD is set off the feeling is said to be similar to a person administering a kick to your chest. Though painful, the process itself is life saving. Moreover since the arrhythmia itself causes you to feel sick, the solution to the problem will surely make you feel better even if there is a significant amount of pain. One more thing on the plus side is that unlike an external defibrillator which causes electrical burns, since the ICD administers the required charge to the heart directly, there are no such problems.

Rarely, the ICD may misread your heart and administer a shock as an error. But technological advancements ensure that such episodes are very rare. Most patients accept and live well with their ICD since it is life saving. I hope theinformation provided is useful. For more information please contact us for your free follow up questions.

Dr. John Monheit
Category: Family Physician-GP
Residecny: North Colorado Family Medicine
Medical School: The Chicago Medical Center
Dr. John Monheit and 4 other Medical Specialists are ready to help you

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