An implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD) is a device that monitors and moderates your heart rate. It uses batteries to send electric signals to a heart that’s beating too slow, similar to a pacemaker. The device can detect the arrhythmia and deliver a jolt of electricity to return your heartbeat back to a normal rhythm.

Inova offers two options:

New subcutaneous implantable cardioverter defibrillator (S-ICD)

Inova uses the Boston Scientific S-ICD® System, the world's first and only commercially available subcutaneous implantable defibrillator (S-ICD) for the treatment of patients at risk for sudden cardiac arrest. We are proud to say that an Inova patient received the first such device in the Northern Virginia and DC metro area. This device offers the same lifesaving benefits of a traditional defibrillator, with the advantage of lower risks of complication since there are no electrodes or leads placed into the heart itself. However, it is only used for patients who do not also require a pacemaker for slow heart rhythms.

Traditional (transvenous) implantable cardioverter-defibrillator

With a traditional implantable cardioverter-defibrillator, an Inova cardiac surgeon places the device below the skin and connects it to the heart with electrodes.

How do implantable cardioverter defibrillators work?

This device is designed to deliver two levels of electrical energy. A low energy shock can convert a beating heart that is in an abnormal rhythm back to a normal heartbeat. A high energy shock is delivered if the arrhythmia is so severe that the heart is only quivering instead of beating. Read more about the history of these devices.