Living with a Defibrillator Implant

People who have had heart attacks, dangerously irregular heartbeats, or other cardiac problems may have had a device known as a “defibrillator” implanted near their heart in order to keep it beating regularly. Although no “quick fix,” defibrillators do offer a measure of comfort and security to many who have had the surgery. Here are a few case histories of real people who have had the surgery and now tell others about how it has improved their lives.

A Young Mother

After having been diagnosed with ventricular tachycardia and Long QT syndrome, one young woman elected to take her doctors advice to have a defibrillator implanted after 11 years of therapy solely through a drug regimen. She received the implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD) when she was 30 years old. Two years later, she gave birth to a healthy baby daughter. A remote monitoring device specially designed for cardiac patients has also added to the quality of life to this young mother.

Several years after the defibrillator implant was installed, the monitoring device enabled her to do away with the many visits she had to make to the clinic for routine checkup to make sure the device was working properly. She could now use the monitor at home, work, or while away on vacation to send the clinic the necessary data via a standard phone line. So although her life is not completely free from care, she does have a sense of freedom not commonly experienced by cardiac patients in the past.

An Active Older Man

One 68-year-old former mechanic, licensed pilot, and motorcycle racer began experiencing fainting spells five years after a heart attack. Diagnosed with coronary artery disease, the doctors performed a quadruple bypass on his heart. Nearly a year after the surgery, he was still experiencing the fainting spells, however, and after more cardiologist visits, was diagnosed with VF ventricular fibrillation.

The abnormally fast heart rate instigated by this condition was causing him to faint, and he subsequently underwent the defibrillator implant surgery his doctor recommended. Soon afterward, this man is now back to his old self riding motorcycles, seeing the country in a motor home along with his wife, and generally experiencing life at its fullest.

Children Benefit, Too

A fifth grader diagnosed with a cardiac problem that caused his heart to go into an abnormal and rapid rhythm received a defibrillator implant at his doctors recommendation. With a history of a very active lifestyle that included playing soccer, tennis, bike riding and more, his family feared his sporting days would be over with the implant surgery.

Although this young man cannot participate in contact sports such as soccer he can still play tag football, tennis, and other non-contact sports. Most of all, his family feels a big reassurance that with proper care and checkups, this young boy will be able to live to a ripe old age.

Living with a defibrillator implant does not miraculously provide a cure-all for all cardiac problems. But for those people for whom it can help, it truly provides a new lease on life and does almost “miraculously” improve the quality of that life.