The primary difference between a pacemaker and an ICD is that pacemakers release low-energy electrical impulses to restore a regular heartbeat, while an ICD can be programmed to continually monitor your heart rhythm and release either low-energy pulses or high-energy pulses, whichever is more appropriate.
Thus an ICD may be more appropriate for patients who have a previous history of cardiac arrest, and who – in the event of a sudden cardiac event – might need a more powerful, high-energy shock to restore their regular heartbeat.
Like a pacemaker, an ICD is installed by a surgeon under the skin in the chest or abdomen. After implantation, the ICD monitors your heart’s electrical activity, and can be programmed to provide low-energy pacing therapy (to correct a mildly irregular heartbeat), cardioversion therapy (to correct a more serious arrhythmia), or defibrillation therapy (to restore the heartbeat in the event of a serious cardiac event).
Implanting either a pacemaker or an ICD is not a light decision, so you should discuss the advantages of both technologies with the best cardiologists in Bergen County before making a decision. If an ICD is implanted, its functionality will be carefully monitored in follow-up appointments, as part of your ongoing cardiac care.