Complications of Implantable Defibrillators

An implantable defibrillator is a life-saving device that is surgically implanted in order to monitor the patient’s heart rhythms and can automatically deliver a does of electrical shock to defibrillate the heart in the event that it suffers arrhythmias.  It works the same way as Philips defibrillators but is activated inside the body. While implantable cardioverter defibrillators (ICDs) are quite effective at preventing cardiac demise there are some complications both surgical and post-surgical that require discussion.

Surgical Complications of ICDs

The main problems caused by inserting an implantable defibrillator are bleeding, pneumothorax, infection and injury to the heart and its surrounding blood vessels.  The risk of having any of the above complications is around 2-3 percent and the risk of dying as a result of the procedure is about the same.


The only exception to the above is infection.  If an ICD device becomes infected with bacteria, the entire system including the generator and the leads need to be removed in order to control the infection with antibiotics. Once the infection is controlled, the patient needs to undergo implantation with a new ICD device.

The main problem with ICDs is that they require constant replacement particularly the generators, which require changing once every six or seven years when it wears out. While the risk of complications is lower, there is still some risk of infection that is higher compared to the initial surgery.

Post-Surgical Problems

Unlike automatic external defibrillators that carry lesser risk because they are applied only externally to the skin, ICDs can have post-surgical complications here are some of the most common.

Lead complications – this occurs when there is dislodgement when the leads “move” from their correct positions. There is also a risk of lead fracture, which can result in a loss of effectiveness of the entire system. Abnormal shocks can also occur as a result.

Pain, skin erosion and bleeding – this happens when the ICD generator is displaced.

Inappropriate Shocks – may occur causing pain and at times psychological trauma to the patient as he feels he is being punished or feels anxious all the time due to an imminent shock beyond his control.

Differentiating Between Cardiac Pain and Stomach Gas Pain

Heart disease is a leading killer in the United States and the entire world.  It is important to know the symptoms of real cardiac pain, the hallmark of an acute coronary episode versus pain caused by gas in the stomach.  The symptoms often are similar to one another and can easily be mistaken.


Pain caused by gas in the stomach is often sharp, intense and the patient has a feeling of bloatedness, flatulence or burping.  You need to assess your gastrointestinal symptoms and determine their location, whether it is new or is a recurring symptom.

Keep a Food Journal

Note what you have eaten recently and learn about what kind of food can cause gas pains.  People that are lactose intolerant can experience substantial abdominal discomfort thirty minutes up to 2 hours after they have ingested a dairy filled meal.  If you have heart disease and are experiencing angina attacks, avoid eating carbonated beverages, corn, cabbage and broccoli as all of the above creates gas.


Check Family History and Lifestyle

Do a review of your family history for any heart problems. If you or any f your immediate relatives have heart disease, take the necessary precautions as most deaths due to heart failure happen during the first 60 minutes once symptoms become severe.  When it comes to lifestyle, your chances of having a heart attack increases when you are sedentary, diabetic, have uncontrolled blood pressure, high cholesterol and smoke.  According to Philips HeartStart defibrillator pads providers, the risk goes up significantly for men after 45 years of age and for women after 55.

Gain True Knowledge of Symptoms Characteristics

The best way to determine if you are having a cardiac episode versus gas pains according to Philips AED packages experts is to know the nature of the chest pain itself. True cardiac pain is a feeling of tightness, or pressure in the middle area of the chest like someone is sitting on top of your chest kind of feeling.  The pain is continuous and can radiate to the left arms shoulder or jaw. In gas pain, the discomfort may also be substantial but there is no squeezing or pressure like sensation. Also, in gas pain the pain is mostly in the lower sternum, just in the area of the diaphragm and can radiate to the lower abdomen.

Precautionary Measures when Using Defibrillators

The term defibrillator refers to the use of an automatic external defibrillator for the purpose of sending an electric shock through the chest of a victim suffering from cardiac arrest.  Based on data from the American Heart Association, about 95% of heart attack patients die before they reach the hospital. However, if defibrillation is performed within five to seven minutes, the rate of survival goes by thirty to forty five percent.  While the device is considered a life saving, there are certain precautions that need to be addressed when using it.


The goal of performing defibrillation on a patient is to correct the underlying potentially fatal arrhythmia that occurred because of an acute cardiac episode.  In order for the procedure to be effective, it needs to be performed at once or at least within five to seven minutes after the patient experiences symptoms like irregular heart rhythms indicated by zero response or an absence of pulse in the patient. What the defibrillator essentially does is it reboots the heart’s electrical impulse so it is able to regain control of the rhythm.

Use of Paddles

Defibrillation is contraindicated on anyone that is conscious or has a pulse as this can cause immediate cardiac arrest.  Philips AED pads should not be placed directly on the chest of the patient or on top of an internal pacemaker.  The correct installation would be on the lower left and upper sides or lower right and upper left portion of the patient’s chest.

Other Important Precautions

The patient’s chest needs to be completely dry for defibrillation to be effective. If the patient suffers cardiac arrest in a pool or outside in wet weather, he or she must first be taken to a dry area and the chest dried prior to commencing any defibrillation procedure.

The chest of the patient must also not have any nitroglycerin patches that can cause an explosion if it gets in contact with the defibrillator. The patient should not lie on any conductive surface or any metal or sheet metal contact that can transmit the shock to nearby persons.  Never touch a patient undergoing defibrillation to avoid electrical shock.

The Characteristic Pain Seen in a Heart Attack

When it comes to chest pain caused by a heart attack, it usually comes in layers as opposed to waves. While duration plays a huge role in determining whether or not you are having an acute coronary condition, if the symptoms last longer than fifteen minutes, do not downplay the symptoms and call 911 immediately.

Layering Symptoms

The pain seen in acute myocardial infarction is nothing that you have felt before, as it is very intense. The angina in heart attacks is characterized as a heavy and strangulating feeling that radiates to the left portion of the chest and even to the neck, shoulder and back.  Each pain seems that they are layering on one another.

Angina Pectoris

In pain caused by angina, the symptoms do mirror one another but is less severe. It can be quite difficult for a person that is having the chest pain to distinguish it from the more serious condition especially if they have not experienced them before.  The pain in angina is intense enough to think that you may be having a heart attack but the difference is that it subsides with rest or when meds are taken like nitroglycerin tablets beneath the tongue. Symptoms may last about fifteen minutes but if it does not abate, call 911 or get to the ER as it may already be a prelude to myocardial infarction. Philips FR2 supplies providers’ attest that 50% of those suffering from angina may die from sudden cardiac death. About a third are more than likely candidates for heart attack especially older men.  It is important to keep in mind that angina pectoris if most often the 1st layer to determine a likelihood of an acute cardiac episode.


According to First Responder AED packages experts, there are also physical changes that happen prior to a heart attack episode.  Victims often report sudden sweating, shortness of breath, fainting and nausea.  The patient also experiences feelings of restlessness, anxiety and an impending sense of doom.  The signs and symptoms may occur in waves or layer against one another and simultaneously.

Save Your Life – Know The Symptoms of a Heart Attack

Heart disease is one of the major diseases affecting the world today that has a very high mortality rate.  Many victims are not aware that they already have symptoms of  heart disease way before the actual heart attack happens.  Anyone at risk of heart disease must know the symptoms of a heart attack.  It just might save your life or someone you love.

Shortness of Breath

Philips AED, maker of high quality defibrillators say that shortness of breath is one of the key signs to look out for because it can be a precursor to the chest pain and could be the 1st symptom victims experience if they are having a coronary episode. The shortness of breath is described as a feeling that you are winded and that you simply cant catch your breath even though you did not do anything that requires exertion. The shortness of breath also comes with some lightheadedness and dizziness.

Chest Pain

The hallmark of a heart attack is chest pain or discomfort that is located at the center or at the left portion of the chest.  The feeling can be described as squeezing or someone that is sitting on your chest.  According to Philips HeartStart defibrillators experts, the pain experienced is intense and can sometimes be mistaken for heartburn or indigestion. The chest pain in a heart attack usually radiates to the left shoulder and sometimes the back.  If it is chest pain related to a heart attack the duration is more than a few minutes or intermittent.

Discomfort in other Areas

Aside from the pain in the chest, the heart attack victim may also experience discomfort in other parts of the body. It can even go to the upper portion of the stomach and can even radiate to the jaw and mouth.  Knowing the aches in the upper part of the body can assist you in distinguishing pain caused by an acute coronary condition versus pain due to indigestion and heartburn.

If you experience any of the pain above, never downplay any of the symptoms especially if you are at risk or have a known heart condition.  Call 911 and wait for emergency responders to assist you.