What is included in patient education about implantable cardioverter-defibrillators (ICDs)?

Updated: Feb 13, 2017
  • Author: Daniel M Beyerbach, MD, PhD; Chief Editor: Jeffrey N Rottman, MD  more...
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Answer

Answer

Although technologic advances have greatly reduced the potential effects of electromagnetic interference (EMI), patients should be advised to avoid strong electromagnetic fields because of potential interference with sensing circuitry. Examples of potential hazards include arc welders, large generators, and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) magnets. Household appliances, microwave ovens, cell phones, and hand-held metal detectors (used for security screening) should not pose a serious threat. [69]

A shock from an implantable cardioverter-defibrillator (ICD) is generally painful. Patients should be advised of this in advance. Advise patients and their families that someone touching them is not harmed if the ICD discharges. Issues regarding driving can be problematic. In the absence of specific state laws, many electrophysiologists recommend that patients be shock-free for 6 months before resuming driving. Loss of driving privileges imposes an enormous burden and change of lifestyle on patients with this restriction. Rules and recommendations regarding commercial driving typically are more stringent.


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