What a defibrillator can do for heart failure

Implantable cardioverter defibrillator

If your heart has been working at less than 35 percent for more than three months, your heart is likely to go into different rhythms. This can cause sudden death.

An implantable cardioverter-defibrillator (ICD) may help control or correct this dangerous rhythm. It is placed near your heart and reads every heartbeat.

If you have an abnormal heartbeat, the ICD sends a shock to your heart to return it to a normal rhythm. The ICD won't treat heart failure or make it better. It's like having a paramedic with you in case there are problems.

Source: Allina Health's Patient Education Department, Heart Failure, fifth edition, 1-931876-31-2
First Published: 10/04/2002
Last Reviewed: 12/10/2015