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Implantable Cardioverter-Defibrillator (ICD)

If, after a full examination, your heart specialist in Bergen County has determined that you suffer from arrhythmia (irregular heartbeat – either too slow, too fast, or erratic), they may bring up the possibility of installing a permanent device to correct this condition. In another section of this website we discuss pacemakers, which are one type of implantable device used to control arrhythmias. In this section we focus on another type of device called an implantable cardioverter-defibrillator, or ICD.


 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.


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