ICD Discharge Instructions

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You will need a 2 week follow-up appointment with us to evaluate your surgical wound healing process. Call 480-246-3000 to schedule this appointment if one was not made for you at the time of your discharge from the hospital. After the initial appointment you will have an important appointment in 3 months for a defibrillator check when adjustments will be made to the programming to increase device longevity.

Home Care for Your Incisions Site:

Proper care of your postoperative incision will greatly enhance the healing process. Keeping the area clean and well cared for will decrease the risk of infection.

Taking care of your wound:
  • Remove the large dressing over the ICD the morning after discharge. This will not be done in the hospital setting for risk of infection.
  • Do not remove the steri strips. They will either fall off or will be removed at your 2 week follow up appointment with our office.
  • Shower as usual the morning after discharge.
  • Don’t scrub the incision area, just wash gently with soap, rinse and pat dry with a clean towel (do not rub).
  • Avoid submerging your wound in a bathtub, swimming pool or Jacuzzi for 6 weeks.
  • Some discomfort such as mild redness, itching and swelling may occur. These symptoms are part of the normal healing process. Don’t scratch the wound if it starts to itch.
  • Protect your incision area from excessive sunlight.

Signs of Infection/Problem:
  • Significant redness, heat, swelling or severe pain.
  • Fever of 100 degrees or higher.
  • White, yellow or greenish discharge coming from the wound or significant bleeding.
  • Opening of the wound.
  • Increasing discomfort related to the wound.

  • Continue to take medications unless told otherwise as discharge.
  • Exercise per physician’s orders.
  • Put your temporary ICD card in your wallet (you will receive a permanent card in about 6 weeks in the mail). Take home your ICD booklet and read at home.
  • Call if you experience any dizziness, lightheadedness, fainting or any questions related to your ICD.

  • Lift, push or pull over 10lbs. or raise your arms (on defibrillator side) above shoulder level for 6 weeks (this includes golfing and tennis).
  • No MRI’s (Magnetic Resonance Imaging). You can have a CAT scan. If an MRI is needed, we recommend waiting until 6 weeks post-implant and an MRI clearance form will need to be filled out by our office.

  • Magnets can affect your ICD. Please read enclosed materials and discuss with your physician if necessary.
  • No Arc Welding.
  • Call 911 if you experience 2 or more shocks in a 24-hour period OR if you receive a shock and do not feel well.
  • Obtain a medical alert ID bracelet or necklace at your pharmacy.
  • Always tell doctors and dentists treating you that you have an ICD.
  • You may use a cell phone if you use it on the opposite ear. Do not put a cell phone in the shirt pocket over your ICD.
  • In the event of an emergency, paramedics should treat you like they would treat any other patient. Your family should also be aware of this.

Common Questions:

Can I drive after ICD implant?
  • Commercial Driving: Recommendations are most clear for commercial driving: it is permanently prohibited, whatever the clinical circumstances leading to ICD therapy.
  • Non-Commercial Driving: ICD patients who have not had symptomatic ventricular arrhythmias can resume driving after 1-2 weeks, much like patients who receive pacemakers. The guidelines regarding driving are (and should be) less restrictive for patients who have received an ICD, but never had an episode of arrhythmia affecting consciousness.
  • ICD patients who have had nonsustained (short episodes which resolve within seconds) symptomatic arrhythmias: should not drive for 3 months after implantation.
  • Patients who received an ICD after an episode of sustained symptomatic ventricular dysrhythmias should not drive for at least 6 months.
  • Episodes restart the clock. Any time after the initial driving restriction that the patient experiences another episode of ventricular tachycardia or ventricular fibrillation that triggers the ICD, the “clock starts over,” and the patient should abstain from driving for 6 months, long enough to adjust the medical therapy and to judge whether the new regimen is adequate.

    Thus, because driving status can change on the basis of the frequency of arrhythmias and their symptomatic consequences, it is recommended you talk to your provider regarding specific instructions for driving.
  • What Should I do if I’m driving and experience symptoms? You should pull off the road in a safe manner and when it is appropriate. If your symptoms persist, you should go to the hospital. You may call 911 or have someone else drive you. If the symptoms subside, you should speak with your provider and discontinue driving until you can be evaluated.