If your doctor has recommended an implantable cardiac defibrillator (ICD) for you, you’ll have a couple of decisions to make. First, do you want to get a device? And if so, which type of device? This page and conversations with your doctor can help you learn more. So together you can make the right decision for you.

This process is called Shared Decision Making. To learn more about what Shared Decision Making means for you as a patient, click here to watch a 30-minute educational program on this topic offered by Mended Hearts. Mended Hearts is the nation’s premier peer-support program for patients who have cardiovascular disease, their caregivers, and their families.

Only 1 in 10 people who have sudden cardiac arrest outside the hospital without an ICD survive.1 With an ICD >95% live.2,3

How does an ICD work?

An ICD will monitor your heart rhythm. If it detects an abnormal life-threatening rhythm – called an arrhythmia – it will deliver a shock to restore your heart’s normal rhythm. Some patients say having an ICD is like having a paramedic with them at all times. Depending on your medical condition and type of heart rhythm, your doctor may recommend an ICD that provides a type of pacing called ATP, or anti-tachycardia pacing. While not painful, some patients report they can feel the ATP being delivered. In some patients, ATP can be used instead of a shock to restore their heart’s normal rhythm.

Can an ICD prolong my life?

In studies of people at risk for sudden cardiac arrest, those with an ICD were 23%–34% more likely to live compared to people without an ICD.2,3

What are the options?

If you choose to get an ICD, you have two options from Boston Scientific: subcutaneous (S-ICD) and transvenous (TV-ICD). The main difference between the two devices is where the lead – that’s the wire that will deliver the shock to your heart – is placed. With a TV-ICD, the lead is placed inside the heart. Our S-ICD’s lead does not touch the heart; it is placed under the skin on your chest.

Want to learn more about the different ICDs?


Will the ICD be visible?

For most people, there is a scar where the ICD is placed, but how visible the scar is depends on how your body naturally heals. There may also be a bump under your skin. How visible that bump is depends on a number of factors including the implant technique, the size and thickness of your device and how much body fat you have. Talk to your physician about what you can expect.


Male transvenous ICD-patient riding bike
Dennis is a DYNAGENTM EL (Extended Longevity) ICD recipient since 2018.
Male transvenous ICD patient device scar and Male transvenous ICD-patient playing Australian football
Ryan is a transvenous ICD recipient since 2011 and had his TV-ICD replacement 7–8 months prior to this photo.
Female transvenous ICD patient device scar and Female transvenous ICD-patient lifting weights
Jen is a transvenous ICD recipient since 2019.
Male transvenous ICD patient device scar
Tim has lived with a transvenous ICD for over 15 years and had this TV-ICD implanted about 4 months prior to this photo.


Male EMBLEM S-ICD patient device scar and Male EMBLEM S-ICD patient swinging baseball bat
Todd is an EMBLEM™ S-ICD recipient since 2015 and had his first S-ICD replacement 6 weeks prior to this photo.
Female EMBLEM S-ICD patient device scar and Female EMBLEM S-ICD patient exercising
Jan is an EMBLEM™ S-ICD recipient since 2017.

Hear how other people made the decision.

Todd running outside in winter
Jan sitting outside in summer
Deb sitting at table with daughter smiling

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