Advertisement

What should I expect after implantable cardioverter defibrillator surgery?

You’ll probably stay in the hospital overnight after your ICD procedure, so your healthcare team can monitor your heartbeat. The next morning you’ll have an x-ray to recheck the position of the leads and the pulse generator.

You’ll get a temporary device ID card that identifies the type of ICD you have, when it was placed, and who performed the procedure. Carry this ID card with you at all times.

You should have a friend or family member drive you home. Don’t try to drive yourself.

Expect to stay in the hospital 1 to 2 days so your health care team can check your heartbeat and make sure your implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD) is working properly.

You'll need to arrange for a ride home from the hospital because you won't be able to drive for at least a week while you recover from the surgery.

For a few days to weeks after the surgery, you may have pain, swelling, or tenderness in the area where your ICD was placed. The pain usually is mild, and over-the-counter medicines can help relieve it. Talk to your doctor before taking any pain medicines.

Your doctor may ask you to avoid vigorous activities and heavy lifting for about a month after ICD surgery. Most people return to their normal activities within a few days of having the surgery.

This answer from the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute has been reviewed and/or edited by Dr. William D. Knopf.

Theodore A. Monitz, MD
Cardiology (Cardiovascular Disease)

An automatic implantable cardio defibrillator is potentially a lifesaving procedure for persons at risk for life threatening heart rhythm irregularities. After the surgery is completed, you should expect to stay in the hospital one-two days so your healthcare team can check your heartbeat and make sure your defibrillator is working properly. You will need to arrange for a ride home from the hospital because you will not be able to drive for at least a week while you recover from the surgery. This is because we would prefer that you not raise your arm above the level of your shoulder. For a few days to weeks after the surgery, you may have discomfort, swelling, or tenderness where the device was placed. The discomfort is usually mild and over-the-counter medications such as Tylenol or Advil may relieve it, but you should talk to your doctor before taking any pain medications. Your doctor will also likely ask you to avoid vigorous exercise and heavy lifting for about a month after the procedure is performed. Your doctor will usually check your implant site within a week and you will be asked to join a monitoring service which will check this device approximately two or three times a year.

Continue Learning about Heart Disease Treatment

Ask the Experts: Heart Disease Treatment
Ask the Experts: Heart Disease Treatment
Treatment for heart disease is determined by the specific cause. In this video, Kevin Soden, MD, reveals common treatment options for heart disease, i...
Read More
Is there a cure for cardiovascular disease?
Dr. Jeanne Morrison, PhDDr. Jeanne Morrison, PhD
Cardiovascular disease does not go away, but it can be managed. You can manage the symptoms and decr...
More Answers
Are there other treatments in addition to medication?
Dr. Jeanne Morrison, PhDDr. Jeanne Morrison, PhD
After a heart attack there are other treatments in addition to medication that can help you recover....
More Answers
A New Drug to Fight Bad Cholesterol
A New Drug to Fight Bad Cholesterol

Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.