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Therapy profile: ICD Therapy

23 April 2013

People with ICD Therapy (an implantable cardioverter defibrillator) have received it because they are at risk of Sudden Cardiac Death (SCD). SCD is the result of a dangerously high heart rate, known as tachycardia. A doctor will determine if a person is at risk of SCD through tests including an echocardiogram. People who have had a previous cardiac arrest may be considered a strong candidate for ICD therapy.

Approximately 30,000 Australian deaths each year are attributed to SCD. There are several treatment options available for people who experience tachycardia. ICDs are 98 percent effective in controlling those dangerous arrhythmias that lead to SCD.

Medtronic estimates that more than 70,000 lives have been saved by ICDs over the past five years alone. It is estimated that 92 percent of patients who experience a Sudden Cardiac Arrest will die within minutes. However, with defibrillation, 98 percent of patients who experience a Sudden Cardiac Arrest have the chance to survive.

Personal perspectivePhoto_Foord Family.png

At 24 years old and expecting his second child, Luke, a gyprocker from Sydney, was fit and healthy – or so he thought. That all changed in February 2009, when his heart stopped. Luke’s Cardiologist diagnosed that Luke had a genetic fault in the electrical system of his heart, which meant his heart was at risk of reaching dangerously high levels (tachycardia). Prior to the event he had experienced no health issues. The Cardiologist recommended an implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD) to treat his heart condition, particularly as the likelihood of a sudden cardiac arrest is tripled following a previous arrest.

Shortly after Luke was implanted, his two year old daughter Leah was misdiagnosed with breath-holding when in fact; she was experiencing bradycardia, a diagnosis revealed by an implantable cardiac monitor. Leah’s heart was beating at a dangerously low level, resulting in pale skin, blue lips and unconsciousness. Doctors recommended a pacemaker, which she received soon after.

As a precaution, Leah’s younger brother Tyler was also tested for heart abnormalities and received a pacemaker at 18 months old. Both may one day require an ICD.

Hear Luke and his wife Sarah, share their experiences here:

Video_Foord Family

Patients with any queries related to their ICD Therapy (including the device or lead) are encouraged to discuss their individual case with their treating physician.

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