Implantable Defibrillators

Photo of 2 doctors talking about a device

Implantable defibrillator (ICD) devices are recommended for patients at risk of sudden cardiac arrest (SCA). SCA can strike without warning. Often people who experienced it felt fine moments before. These risk factors can often contribute to the risk of a sudden cardiac arrest.


  • Coronary artery disease – About 90% of adult victims of SCA have plaque in two or more major heart arteries (coronary arteries).1
  • Heart Attack – About 75% of sudden cardiac arrest victims have scarring in their heart muscle from a prior heart attack.1
  • Other heart problems – When SCA occurs in young adults other rare heart conditions are likely the cause, such as hypertrophic cardiomyopathy.1


ICDs have been used for decades and have prolonged hundreds of thousands of lives. Today, there are two types of ICDs available to patients who are risk of sudden cardiac arrest:

  • the transvenous ICD system is implanted inside the chest or, rarely, in the abdomen
  • the subcutaneous ICD (S-ICD™ System) is implanted outside the rib cage, under the skin

Both types of ICDs administer life-saving defibrillation therapy. However, the S-ICD system does not place an electrical wire in your heart.

Learn More. Select the image that shows where your ICD will be implanted to learn how to prepare and what to expect.


Implant types - invasiveImplant types - less invasive


If you or someone you know is at risk for sudden cardiac death, you are not alone. Only your heart doctor can determine which type of ICD is the right choice for you. During your discussion with your doctor, you may want a list of topics and questions. Also, if you take notes during your appointment, you can share this information with your family members.

Topics you may want to discuss:

  • Test results, including your ECG results
  • Arrhythmia diagnosis and condition of your heart
  • Treatment options and physician’s recommendations
  • What to expect before, during, and after the procedure
  • Follow-up visits and what to expect
  • Living with the ICD, including physical limitations and medications


Questions you may want to ask

  • Am I at risk for sudden cardiac arrest?
  • What are the risks or complications with ICDs?
  • Will the ICD interfere with my other medications
  • Am I a candidate for an S-ICD System?
  • What can I expect during the procedure?
  • How long will I be in the hospital?
  • Is this procedure painful?
  • What is typical recovery following the procedure?
  • Will this device interfere with my lifestyle?
  • What lifestyle restrictions will I have?
  • What if I receive a shock? Is it painful?
  • What instructions do you have for my family or caregiver?


CRV-181504-AA SEP2013

1. Heart Disease and Sudden Cardiac Death. Accessed 080113
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