ICD patients: You’re not alone

ICDs

An implantable cardioverter defibrillator, or ICD, provides immediate therapy to life-threatening arrhythmias (heart beating too quickly or too slowly) through a painless pacing sequence or a jolt of electricity. Despite its lifesaving capabilities, an ICD may bring questions, fear and anxiety for many patients.

Here are three questions I’m often asked by ICD patients:

Q. What about airport security scanners and other magnetic devices? Will they interact with my ICD?

External electromagnetic or radiofrequency signals can impact an ICD, so patients should not stand in or near the doorway of stores with electronic theft-detection devices or in airport security areas. Instead, show your ICD identification card and ask to be hand searched at airports or other places with electronic security areas (sports venues, etc.). Also, cellular telephones shouldn’t be held on the side where your ICD has been implanted. Instead, use your opposite ear when talking. X-rays, including mammograms, are permitted. Continue reading

One family, three implantable cardioverter defibrillators

Jeanette McDonald cares for herself and two sons with ICDs

caregiver heart blogJeanette McDonald has a lot on her plate, but you won’t hear her complain. Not only is she a U-M cardiomyopathy patient who has had an implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD) for the last three years — she’s also the mother of two boys who have ICDs.

An ICD provides immediate therapy for a life-threatening arrhythmia where the heart is beating too quickly by providing a jolt of electricity — a treatment called defibrillation. An ICD continuously monitors heart rhythms and is programmed to deliver pacing impulses to restore the heart’s natural rhythm, which can, in some cases, help avoid the need for a shock.

After her own diagnosis, U-M cardiologists recommended Jeanette’s sons be tested for the heart condition. Both tested positive and received ICDs within months of each other: Ian at the age of 20 and Jacob at the age of 18. Today, three years later, neither son has symptoms of cardiomyopathy — something they are all grateful for. Continue reading