My Child Needs or Has an Implantable Cardioverter-Defibrillator
What Should I Do?
The identification of a heart problem in a child can create fear and uncertainty for parents. This patient page will address some common questions from parents of school-age children who require therapy with an implantable cardioverter-defibrillator (ICD). It is intended to be a parental resource to promote understanding and confidence in children and young adults to live successfully with an ICD.
What Is an ICD?
An ICD is not a cure, but instead can be viewed as an insurance policy, protecting at-risk individuals against dangerous heart rhythms. Previous research has indicated that ICDs significantly reduce the risk of sudden cardiac arrest in patients at risk for sudden cardiac death.1 An ICD is a small implanted device that monitors the heart rhythm and is able to stop a dangerous heart rhythm that could result in sudden cardiac death by either rapidly pacing or shocking the heart back to a normal rhythm. Open-heart surgery is not required to implant the device. The ICD is typically placed in the upper left chest and has sensing wires that attach to the walls of the heart muscle. Your child will likely have the ICD throughout his or her lifetime and will need the battery changed every 5 to 7 years. It will require monitoring by a cardiologist, typically every 3 to 6 months, which can be done painlessly with a monitoring system from home or in the cardiologist's office.
My Child Needs an ICD
What Questions Should I Ask?
At first, it may feel like you have so many questions that you don't know where to start. The Table details a number of key questions and answers. In addition, here are some important things you may want to ask your child's cardiologist:
What is my child's diagnosis, and what implications does …