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British Heart Foundation
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What do you actually do if the hard wear kicks off?!

@Chris_ BHF

Quick question for anyone really! What do I actually do if my Hubby's ICD kicks off? Do I ring the ambulance? Only if it goes more than once? What about if the pacemaker part just kicks in to pace his heart rate? Do we just make a note of the time and date and tell the doc at the next appointment? I feel a bit in the dark as to what to actually do if something happens. The advice seems to alter depending on who you talk to.

Any advice would be gratefully received. I've decided being proactive is the only way my head can deal with this.

5 Replies

Hi SickoftheM6

I have a new ICD and I've recently been asking similar questions to you regarding shock therapy being administered and what to do. I've had to find out for the first aiders at work should I need help whilst in the office.

The paperwork I received said if you have one shock and feel fine before and after then its not an emergency. However I confirmed with the cardiac nurse that if my ICD fires off I should always be seen at the hospital and the quickest way to do this is called 999. My ICD is set to deliver shock therapy at 220bpm so I can imagine if my heart is ever going that fast I wouldn't feel well anyway.

Best case scenario is that the shock works and your hubby will be fine within minutes but if the shock therapy is administered to your hubby and he's not coming round then he will need CPR until the ambulance arrives. That's obviously worst case scenario. The ICD is like gold standard protection so its unlikely it would never get to that point.

It would however be interesting to find out people's real experience of this as I too am working from the theoretical at the moment.

In terms of the pacemaker part, your hubby will not know when it is pacing as you can't feel it, apart from the odd occasion. It would be tough to try and record every time. Besides the pacemaker technicians can interrogate the device and it shows them everything they need to know ie how often the pacemaker is pacing, what time of day, how long the battery has left in it, if the device has given shock therapy. All sorts of info. So unless he's been specifically asked to record tines etc I wouldn't bother.

Hope this helps

Spatz76 x


Hi Spatz76

Thanks, that's more information in one go than I've managed to get from anyone yet. I agree that it would be really helpful to find out the real experiences of someone who has been through it.

Thanks again for your help

1 like

Hi there - generally speaking if your husband has one shock from his ICD and seems otherwise 'well' then you'd just need to call his ICD clinic and let them know as they might want to bring him in to read the data on the device. More than one shock, or if he's acutely unwell with only one shock, or even if you're not sure then call 999.

I hope this helps,


1 like

Hi, mine went off last week and my biggest advice would be to do what you're doing now and have a plan! I had mine fitted two years ago and having had no problems I had sort of forgotten all the advice. I felt physically fine beforehand - I was riding a horse! I took a while to realise what had happened, and panicked more by realising what it was than the actual electrical shock. Anyway, I did go to A&E and was really pleased to have gone just for getting the reassurance. I was told that if it happens again and I feel fine I can just phone the clinic, but if I feel unwell or am at all worried they are always happy for me to go and be checked.


So glad you're ok. This makes me feel so much better.


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