Adjusting to an ICD Implant

Even though an ICD implant is a potentially lifesaving device, it can take some time to adjust and to feel normal again. Some patients and family members tell us that, after the ICD implant, they had periods of denial, fear, depression, and sometimes even anger.

The good news is that, over time, both patients and family members gradually get used to the device and begin to return to normal.

The following steps have been shown to help patients and family members adjust to their ICD in a positive and productive way:

  • Get as much information as you need about your ICD – this will help you feel more in control
  • Understand that any emotions that you are feeling are normal and talking about them is a good release
  • Talk to other people who have had ICD implants – listening to their experiences will give you ideas throughout your own adjustment period
  • Work on gradually returning to your normal activities – this will help build your confidence

Finally, if you find yourself becoming overwhelmed, make sure you talk to your doctor or the clinic staff; you might need a bit more support.

Responding to an ICD Shock

  • Expect that, at some point, you will receive a shock from your ICD.
  • Make sure both you and your family know what to do if you receive a shock.
  • After a shock, take time to focus on breathing and relaxation – give yourself time to do a quick check on how you are feeling.
  • Contact the Pacemaker/Defibrillator Clinic on the next business day. Make sure you ask any questions that you need to.
  • Check your thinking – remind yourself that the ICD is helping you to continue to do all the activities that you enjoy.

Many patients have reported that, after their first shock, they felt less anxiety because they now knew that their device was working properly and that it would keep them safe.

Implantable Cardioverter Defibrillator Support Group

The ICD Support Group meetings provide the opportunity to meet and speak with other ICD patients in an informal setting. Many sessions feature guest speakers on a variety of heart health topics. An advanced practice nurse attends the meetings and can help with questions or concerns that you may have.

The group meets monthly at the University of Ottawa Heart Institute. You will receive a calendar of dates and times as well as session topics with your appointment card in the mail from the Pacemaker/Defrillator Clinic.

You will receive a reminder of the support group meetings with your discharge information.