The ICD & End of Life Care

Our April 2016 meeting involved a discussion with Mandie Welch (ICD Nurse Specialist) regarding end of life issues with people who have ICD implants.

Generally speaking many families shy away from discussions relating to death and dying.

Most of us wish for a peaceful, comfortable, pain free death so for those of us with ICD implants these discussions are particularly important so that adequate preparations are made.

As health conditions deteriorate the chances of the heart rhythm becoming more unstable increases and consequently the risk of shocks increase too.

These can be painful for the patient, cause a lot of anxiety for the patient and family and can be distressing for family and carers to witness.

Mandie explained at the moment issues of hospitals & medical teams not communicating with each other can be problematic and because of this  it is very important to know that WE can act proactively to help minimise the risks and / or prevent inappropriate shocks by acting on the following –

  • Make sure that  ICD’s nurses are informed of changes in patient diagnosis for instance cancer, heart failure etc
  • Inform them when you/ family member has been admitted because of deteriorating condition.
  • Ensure that staff treating you / yours have awareness of  contact numbers of ICD Nurse Specialists
  • Ensure palliative care services have contact details of ICD Nurse Specialists.

Mandie emphasised that

*turning off the device will NOT cause death.

*Will NOT be painful

She explained that the physiologists would be able to visit the ward or individual home in order to deactivate the device.

The Arrhythmia Alliance has issued information regarding ICD’s and deactivation and you can read it here..



The British Heart Foundation (BHF) has issued a frequently asked questions sheet which you can read here

GwentDefibbers would like to thank Mandie for a very interesting but difficult talk which she did most sympathetically…. Thank you




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