After ICD surgery, you’ll typically need to stay in the hospital overnight. Before you leave, your doctor will test your device to make sure it’s working properly. Take all medication as prescribed and follow your physician’s instructions. Talk to your doctor if you notice any of the following:

  • Blood or fluid comes out of the surgery scar
  • The surgery incision swells or becomes unusually warm
  • The pain gets worse after it had initially improved

If you feel any activity by your ICD, make sure to write it down, and include additional information such as the date and time and what you were doing at the time. Call your doctor if you think you have received an unnecessary shock.




The ICD programmer lets your doctor program, reprogram, and test your implanted cardiac device. It takes measurements that your doctor can use to customize your therapy. Follow-ups are done normally a few weeks after surgery, then at regular intervals every 3-6 months while you still have the ICD in place.




ICDs come with a monitor that can transmit data from the ICD to your physician. The monitor allows your doctor to continuously monitor your condition. Your ICD will be monitored by your physician either during an office visit or remotely with a remote monitoring system. The process of checking your ICD is called “Interrogation.” It can transmit information on battery life, lead function, and medical data via:

  • In-office monitoring: A programming tool is placed on your chest (you don’t have to remove your clothing) to collect information that will tell your doctor if you’ve had any irregular heart rhythms or if any electrical pulses or shocks were delivered.
  • Remote monitoring: Uses remote, wireless technology or analog landlines and transmitters to deliver information to your doctor by e-mail, fax, or phone. This allows your doctor to receive alerts and information on arrhythmia events, shocks delivered, battery status, and the condition of the leads. Some transmitters send data at set times, others allow data to be sent anytime, day or night. Transmitters can be placed in the home or carried on the patient’s belt.



Depending on which ICD you have, when your ICD battery needs to be replaced, it will send a signal to your doctor. A new ICD will be implanted using the same procedure.

Dos and Don’ts After Surgery

Recovery from ICD surgery doesn’t take long, but it’s important to allow your doctor to determine when it’s safe to resume your normal activities. To begin living better with your device, here are some general safety guidelines to follow.

After recovering from surgery most patients CAN participate in:

  • Moderate exercise
  • Work
  • Driving
  • Gardening or yard work
  • Sports (avoid contact sports)
  • Bathing and showering
  • Normal sexual activity
  • Swimming (make sure there is a lifeguard on duty)
  • Traveling (inform your doctor)

Changes in your heart condition, drugs, or other health conditions may affect your ICD. Continue to have regular check ups to monitor your health and your device.

After recovering from surgery most patients SHOULD NOT:

  • Have a Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) scan, unless you have an MR conditional device (must wait six weeks post-implant).
  • Walk through airport metal detectors–both walk-through detectors and the handheld kind.
  • Go near equipment or other sources that generate strong magnetic fields that can interfere with your device, i.e., power tools, radio/television/radar transmitters, theft detection systems, walkie-talkies, pagers, vehicle ignition systems, etc.
  • Participate in contact sports.
  • Allow cell phones within 6 inches (15 cm) of your device, even when turned off.
  • Have medical procedures like external defibrillation, diathermy therapy, electrosurgical procedures, lithotripsy, high dose radiation, or nuclear medicine.


icon_deviceEvery patient is unique. Answering a few survey questions will help your doctor decide on the best device for you and your lifestyle.

After completing the quiz we will provide a printable outline of your responses that can be easily shared with your doctor.


icon_questionsEveryone has questions. We’ve got answers to the ones ICD patients ask most.

This list of questions and answers can help you prepare for your next doctor’s consultation and possibly ease unnecessary fears.

Choosing Your ICD

Not all ICDs are alike. Get our educational eguide, Choosing Your ICD, and learn what functions are key to choosing the best device for your lifestyle.



Get our educational eguide, Understanding Abnormal Heart Rhythms, and learn about the basic heart functions and types of arrhythmia.