ICD has shocked. What now? - British Heart Fou...

British Heart Foundation
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ICD has shocked. What now?


My Dad has had an ICD for years, but in the early hours of Sunday morning he started to feel dizzy and faint and then his ICD triggered. He started to feel better, so didn't go to AandE. His ICD is monitored, but only during working hours on weekdays. They must have picked up what had happened on Monday morning as he had a call from the technicians to say it had triggered as his heart was beating too fast. They adked if his meds had recently changed and said they might need to change the settings on his machine, but we've heard nothing since. We don't know how serious this is, what to expect, what to look out for. We're all worried. I've read that he might now not be able to drive. Dad has a tendency to brush things under the carpet as he says he feels fine now, but we all feel like we're living on a knife edge. Has anyone got any advice please? I can't believe that we haven't heard anything from the hospital. Is this normal? Are we overreacting and worrying unnecessarily? 😟

14 Replies

Hi, Jollylolly as your dad's icd has fired he has to stop driving until its been investigated. If its deemed to be a inappropriate shock then i think he cant drive for a month, if its an appropriate shock then its a least 6 months. Its shocking that hes not heard from the hospital. If hes still under the care of a cardiologist, can he contact him/her? Certainly chase up the hospital, perhaps his GP can step in here.

Keep in mind the ICD is a safety net. So when it fires it's doing its job.

MichaelJHHeart Star

I can only reiterate what Lezzers has said. My niece's father-in-law had his kick in at the start of the year when he passed out. In fact it saved his life! He was not allowed to drive for six months but everything is fine now. Your father must not drive and must inform the DVLA. If he does drive he will be both unlicenced and uninsured!

I would also suggest chasing up the hospital!

Hi, I didn't read anywhere that he's seen his GP. If he hasn't done so, it seems the first thing to do at the moment. Hope he's ok.

Hi. Like you I would be concerned that the hospital haven't followed this episode up. You could telephone the cardiology technical staff to see what the monitoring showed. If you are then concerned I would bypass everyone and just take hospital's emergency department and insist this is investigated. They can then get the on-call cardiologist to see him and review the monitoring.

I am afraid as others have said he must not drive until you are clear about what happened.

Good luck.

Thank you to everyone for their advice. We have been expecting a phone call from the hospital as a follow up, but as yet haven't heard anything. I will try to get hold of them today. Because we were waiting for the hospital, we haven't been in touch with the GP - we didn't think they'd have the information from the ICD to be able to advise us. Dad wants to bury his head in the sand and pretend it hasn't happened - he doesn't remember the shock, I think he may have already started to lose consciousness. The ICD technicians just said that the machine had been doing its job. MichaelJH I hope your niece's father-in-law is doing well. I have to be honest, we have all been thinking that this is the beginning of the end for him, so it's comforting to know that we still may have some more time with him. I will make sure that he doesn't drive. Thank you everyone for the help and support.

MichaelJHHeart Star in reply to Jollylolly

You really need answers! I should be seeing my niece's father-in-law on Saturday as it is her birthday. He seems to be doing holiday planning rather than funeral planning. Remember the ICD deals with an event but the event itself does not necessarily mean the beginning of the end! Stay positive!

Jollylolly in reply to MichaelJH

Thank you so much!! I have called the hospital and we are waiting now for a return call. 😊😊

Lezzers in reply to Jollylolly

Hi jollylolly, no reason to think it's the beginning of the end. The icd is simply doing the job it was fitted for. My husband had cardiac arrest over 20 years ago and his icd was fitted in 2012. It has never fired but I do know it has corrected his heart a few times.

Jollylolly in reply to Lezzers

Dad has had his ICD for years too, and yes it has adjusted his heart. It's scary when it shocks though. I'm happy to hear that your husband is doing well, and am so grateful for the amazing technology that is available to us all today. 😊😊

I have an ICD fitted and it has shocked me twice.

For me it's not something you could mistake or miss.

The first time was like getting a major full force punch in the head/ chest. The second time a bit less so and more just like an electric shock, but no way could I miss it. I didn't loss consciousness either time though, which they said was a bit unusual.

I phoned NHS direct after each. First time they sent an ambulance and I was taken in and linked up to an ECG for the next 4hrs. The second time, I was given a lift in but fully checked over as well. The defibrillator clinic saw me the next day. They said there was no need to make an appointment as they need to see you ASAP after a shock.

Required by law not to drive for 6months if they change your meds or 2years if no change in meds, and no more driving buses or particular classes of vehicles (HGV's etc). It's a pain, but if you were to fall unconscious before the shock you could kill not only yourself but other people too...think that was the case of the refuse lorry driver in Glasgow a few Christmas's back!

Incidentally I'm not planning on expiring any time soon. Just the wiring in my heart is a bit knackered which the ICD takes care of occasionally!

Good luck to your dad!

Thank you Frank. I've just seen your reply. Dad's machine definitely shocked - the ICD clinic confirmed it. Mum also felt it as she was with him at the time. He's still had no appointment at the hospital, but has stopped driving. We have since found out that he'd got his medications muddled up and had been overdosing on one and not taking his beta blocker. Hopefully now that is sorted his heart will behave itself. I'm happy to hear you're doing well. The ICD is certainly a wonderful device! 😊

Hi Jolly,

How's the old boy doing? Did you manage to get the appointment sorted out ok?

Anyway hope things are ok and you are looking forward to Christmas time!


Hi FLP! Dad's soldiering on, thanks for asking. No more shocks. The hospital have been dismissive, simply saying that the machine is doing what it's supposed to do. The emotional support has come from this site. We're looking forward to Christmas. Hope you are too. 🎄😊

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