Ask the doctors: Should I replace my ICD?

Published: August, 2012

Q. I am 90 years old and have had severe heart failure for seven years after having a heart attack. I have an implantable defibrillator. It has never gone off. It is near the end of its lifetime, and the cardiologist asked me if I want it replaced. What would you advise?

A. Many people with severely damaged hearts receive implantable cardioverter-defibrillators (ICDs) because they have a high risk of sudden death from rhythm abnormalities. Fortunately, you have not had this problem, but you remain at considerable risk. If a dangerous arrhythmia occurs, the defibrillator might save your life.

To continue reading this article, you must log in.
  • Research health conditions
  • Check your symptoms
  • Prepare for a doctor's visit or test
  • Find the best treatments and procedures for you
  • Explore options for better nutrition and exercise

New subscriptions to Harvard Health Online are temporarily unavailable. Click the button below to learn about our other subscription offers.

Learn More »