Implantable cardioverter-defibrillator (ICD)

An implantable cardioverter-defibrillator (ICD) is a small device that uses electrical pulses or shocks to help control abnormal heart rhythms, especially ones that can be life-threatening. An ICD is also known as an automatic implantable cardioverter-defibrillator (AICD).

An ICD continuously checks the heart's rhythm. If the ICD detects a life-threatening rapid heart rhythm, it sends an electric shock to the heart to restore a normal rhythm. The device then goes back to its watchful mode.

An ICD is implanted under the skin in the chest. A wire threaded through a large vein connects the device to the heart.

Last Updated: June 18, 2009

Author: Robin Parks, MS

Medical Review: Caroline S. Rhoads, MD - Internal Medicine & John M. Miller, MD - Electrophysiology

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