implantable cardioverter defibrillators

Last reviewed 01/2018

  • this is a treatment that can detect a life-threatening arrythmia (e.g. ventricular fibrillation) and restore the patient to normal rhythm
  • efficacy:
    • there have been a number of randomised studies that have provided evidence of life-saving efficacy of the ICD, with reductions of overall mortality of 20-54% compared to anti-arrhythmic drugs (1)
    • ICD therapy is effective in primary and secondary prevention of sudden cardiac death among patients with prior myocardial infarction and depressed ejection fraction
    • ICD therapy appears to significantly reduce mortality in patients with nonischaemic cardiomyopathy (2)


  1. British Heart Foundation, Factfile 5/99.
  2. Desai AS et al. Implantable defibrillators for the prevention of mortality in patients with nonischemic cardiomyopathy: a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. JAMA 2004;292:2874-9