What does an AICD look like? How does it work?
The AICD consists of two parts: first, a box which houses the electronics (the “device”), and second, one or more wires that connect the box to the heart muscle (the “leads”).
This is what an actual AICD looks like. The maximum diameter is around 2 to 3 inches i.e. around the length of your small or ring finger.
Shown here is what a freshly implanted AICD looks like. The incision used to implant the device is around 5 cm long. Usually it is implanted on the left side; occasionally it is implanted on the right side.
Why does my doctor think I need an AICD?
Your doctor will recommend an AICD if he thinks you are at risk of developing dangerous abnormal heart rhythms (“VT” or “VF”) and therefore at risk of sudden death. This may be because:
Who and where will the AICD implantation be done?
A specialist doctor called an Electrophysiologist will perform the procedure. The procedure will be done in the Electrophysiology Lab.
Is AICD implantation procedure safe?
A device implant is generally a safe procedure. However, as with any invasive procedures, there are risks. Special precautions are taken to decrease your risks.
Your doctor will discuss your risk with you as every individual is different. In general however, the risk of implanting an AICD is low - only 1% or less of serious complications. These include (but are not limited to):
All of these complications are treatable. However, the most common problem with AICDs is that they may deliver unnecessary shocks; if so, your AICD may need to be re-programmed or your medication altered.
What are the benefits to me if I agree to have an AICD implanted?
The purpose of the AICD is to protect you from sudden cardiac death due to abnormal heart rhythms; your doctor will normally only recommend one if he thinks this risk substantially outweighs the low risk of AICD implantation.
Are there different types of ICD?
Yes. Your doctor will determine the best suitable device for you, depending on your condition.