Harvard Health Letter

News briefs: Education, psychological support vital for ICD users

Each month, an estimated 10,000 Americans receive an implantable cardioverter-defibrillator (ICD) to help establish a healthy heart rhythm and prevent sudden cardiac death. But the American Heart Association says that psychosocial support needed to adjust to life with an ICD is often overlooked after the devices are implanted. The AHA statement, published in a recent issue of Circulation, includes recommendations such as making sure ICD recipients and their families have a "shock plan," so everyone knows what to do if the ICD has to send a shock to a heart out of rhythm. People with ICDs should also be encouraged to share any questions or concerns they have at follow-up appointments, as symptoms of anxiety and depression aren't uncommon among ICD recipients. They should also understand the benefits and limitations of ICDs and make sure they know how the devices will affect their lifestyles.