Heart Disease Expert Forum
defibrillator malfunction
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This forum is for questions and support regarding heart issues such as: Angina, Angioplasty, Arrhythmia, Bypass Surgery, Cardiomyopathy, Coronary Artery Disease, Defibrillator, Heart Attack, Heart Disease, High Blood Pressure, Mitral Valve Prolapse, Pacemaker, PAD, Stenosis, Stress Tests.

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defibrillator malfunction

I have had a defibrillator for two years with only one episode that consisted of three shocks.  On Monday the lead from my defibillator to the heart broke and I was shocked 12 time before they got me to the hospital and discovered the problem.  The entire unit was replaced and appears to be doing OK.  My concern is the the shocks could have caused additional damage to my heart.  They felt stronger than the first time it went off.  I have Cardiomyopathy with an EF of 28.  Would you suggest any additional testing to verify the outcome of this rather tramatic event.  I go back to my Cardiologist in two weeks and want to be prepared to ask for any additional tests.
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Margaret,

I'm sorry to hear of your ordeal.  Many health care workers do not understand the pain and emotional trauma associated with these shocks -- I certainly am not one of them.  I once attended a conference at Medtronic, the largest maker of defibrillators, where one of the chief engineers told us a story about accidentally being shocked by an ICD.  He said that he would stick his tongue in an electrical outlet before undergoing an ICD shock again!

The silver lining is that there is no evidence that repeated shocks, like you experienced, cause any irreversible damage to the heart.  So while your episode must have been terribly frightening and painful, it should not have left any permanent physical scars.  Emotional scars, however, can be formed after an episode like you experienced.  There is certainly no shame in seeking counseling if this is true for you.  And unfortunately, your heart doctor may not be the most prepared person to provide this service.

Good luck.

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