Recent Blog Articles
Acupuncture relieves prostatitis symptoms in study
Skin in the game: Two common skin problems and solutions for men
Anti-inflammatory food superstars for every season
Harvard Health Ad Watch: An upbeat ad for a psoriasis treatment
A new targeted treatment for early-stage breast cancer?
What is neurodiversity?
Thinking about holiday gatherings? Harvard Health experts weigh in
Time to stock up on zinc?
Recent study shows more complications with alternative prostate biopsy method
Walnuts: A worthy addition to your daily diet?
Living with an implantable defibrillator
Ask the doctor
Q. My 79-year-old father recently received an implantable cardioverter defibrillator. While he seems to be doing okay, he and my mother are both very anxious about what will happen if he ends up needing a shock. I live nearby and want to support them, so can you offer any advice? I’d also like to be aware of the general advice for people who have these devices.
A. You can reassure your parents that feeling anxious about a shock from an implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD) is both understandable and fairly common. An ICD continuously monitors the heart’s rhythm and rate, checking for abnormalities. If it senses a minor glitch, the device emits a low-energy electrical correction that might go unnoticed. But correcting a potentially life-threatening rhythm problem requires a significant jolt. Some patients have told me it feels as though they’ve been kicked in the chest by a horse. It may help to know that many people with ICDs never receive a shock. In fact, recent improvements allow doctors to program the devices to have a longer period of "watching" to allow the errant rhythm to terminate on its own before delivering a shock.
To continue reading this article, you must log in.
Subscribe to Harvard Health Online for immediate access to health news and information from Harvard Medical School.
- 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
I'd like to receive access to Harvard Health Online for only $4.99 a month.Sign Me Up
Already a member? Login ».
As a service to our readers, Harvard Health Publishing provides access to our library of archived content. Please note the date of last review or update on all articles. No content on this site, regardless of date, should ever be used as a substitute for direct medical advice from your doctor or other qualified clinician.
Free Healthbeat Signup
Get the latest in health news delivered to your inbox!