My Implantable Cardioverter Defibrillator

I am a bionic man since March 3rd, 1999, when I was implanted an ICD in Carmel Hospital in Haifa, Israel.

I have HCM (Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy), a congenital heart disease which may cause fatal arrythmias (irregular heart beats) leading to cardiac arrest (sudden cardiac death). Several drugs are known to prevent arrythmias, among them is sotalol, but those drugs are not 100% proven to inhibit arrythmias - even in people for whom the drugs seems to be effective.

A patient which has a fatal arrythmia, such as VF (Ventricular Fibrillations) or prolonged VT (Ventricular Tachycardia) will faint, and is very likely to die of cardiac arrest unless a mobile intensive care unit reaches him in time, and resuscitates him with a defibrillator, a large machine which gives an electrical shock to the heart and gets it started again. Unfortunately, those units rarely arrive in time to save the patient, or sometimes they arrive late and leave the patient with permanent brain damage.

This is where implantable defibrillators (ICDs) come in. These are small devices (modern ICDs measure about 6x6x1.5 cm, somewhat larger than pacemakers) which are implanted in the chest of the patient, and automatically deliver the life-saving electrical shock when a fatal arrythmia is sensed. ICDs operate using the battery contained in them, which typically lasts 5-10 years, after which the entire ICD needs to be replaced. ICDs are implanted in patients with a risk of fatal arrythmias, such as patients with HCM or patients whose heart muscle was previously damaged by a heart-attack (MI).

My brother Gilead, who also suffered from HCM died in 1996 because he did not have an ICD (although his disease was diagnosed in 1987), and the mobile intensive care unit arrived too late. My father Zvi also suffers from HCM, and was implanted with an ICD in 1995, after having survived a potentially-fatal arrythmia. His ICD has sinced saved his life three times.

My Personal ICD

I was implanted with an ICD on March 3rd, 1999, in Carmel Hospital in Haifa, Israel. My ICD was made by the CPI (Guidant) corporation, and is a model called VENTEK MINI IV+ 1793, the smallest ICD available at the time which also had a long battery life (8.5 years). The picture at the top of the page is a picture (not in actual size) of this model.

Guidant's ICD Patient Handbook is a good place to start if you want to learn more about what is it like living with an ICD.

Luckily I haven't had a life-threatening arrythmia yet, so my ICD is just a "safty net", which hopefully will never be used.

More About ICDs

More About HCM

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Nadav Har'El