High-voltage shock

I'd like to hear from anyone with an ICD who has received a strong shock. First-hand experience only please.  I am scheduled to have one of these devices implanted in the next week, and I want to know what a strong shock feels like.  I have heard it's like a horse kick to the chest or being hit with a baseball bat.  I really don't want to worry about this happening while I'm driving or doing other activities.  Is the shock really that strong?  It sounds painful, and it's hard to believe such a small device/battery can deliver such a shock - similar to paddles used for cardioversion.  Any and all responses to this message would be greatly appreciated.


4 Comments

ICD shocks

by islandgirl - 2020-08-04 12:22:28

Yes, does feel like a horse kicking you in the upper left chest.  It was such a surprise, but I had been having some ventricular arrhythmias over the past couple of month.  I heard a loud cannon sound, but friends I was with said they heard no sound, just me crying out with each shock.  And yes, it traumatized them!  

Don't dwell on it the thought of getting shocked.  Live your life as before and know you are safe.  I had gone 3 1/2 years without a shock.  It saved my life.  I was unconscious after the first shock, and after the 4th shock I regained consciousness.  Many never get shocked.  I had a sudden cardiac arrest and 30 min. of CPR before I got this device (had a pm previously due to SSS).  My EP told me I would not be around without the ICD.  I spent a couple of days in the hospital, my EP made adjustments, did some tests, and some med changes/additions.  It is unknown why I go from vtach to vfib to asystole so quickly.  He told me that I will most likely have other shocks, but I wouldn't be speaking to him without the ICD.  I do still worry about getting shocked, but time does heal.  Good luck.  

Thank you, Islandgirl.

by Patriot01 - 2020-08-04 17:34:10

Thanks so much for your response.  Good information to know.  You're right that it doesn't make sense to worry about it - if it happens, it will save your life.  I appreciate your candor.  Thanks again!  Would love to hear from other folks as well if you'd like to share your experience.

Strong shocks ?

by mrag - 2020-08-05 14:04:32

I've been told all shocks, high or low voltage *should* feel the same. My own experience has been "it depends on the situation." I didn't know or initially recognize when I had my first shock-it was like a tap on the back. Over the years I had other shocks, one or two in the horse kick to chest range. I know others that never felt a shock-they passed out first! There are usually 3 settings for shocks. My EP sets them all to the same, the highest voltage. He says "shocks feel the same" and if an ICD fires, he wants it to start at the most effective voltage. Shocks seem much more of a rarity now-the ICDs are more sophisticated? Make sure to ask about ATP being activated. I also know someone that was driving, got a shock and kept on driving-it's a split second thing, done and over with. Good luck.

Seems to depend on the person

by turboz24 - 2020-08-06 01:14:31

When I was shocked, I describe it more as when someone comes up behind you and scares the crap out of you and you jump.. I never experienced pain per say. For me the most annoying situation was before my 4 ablations to resolve the majority of my extreme vtach issues, the ICD would attempt to ATP, which I could feel, it didn't hurt, more like a tickle 4 times, tickle 4 times, then charge for 4-6 seconds and shock. ATP used to always fail, so waiting for the ATP to fail then waiting for it to charge was the worst part.

Being shocked while driving or doing anything dangerous, I would attempt to pull over or drop what you are working on. I got shocked while sheet rocking a ceiling, but I always felt the arrythmmia start, so I felt it start, stepped off the ladder, dropped the sheetrock, got shocked, and went back to work.

My EP tells me that being thin vs muscular will affect how the shock feels. I'm pretty thick in the chest department, so probably why I don't feel any pain. Now, I don't know if I ever was shocked with the current defib, which is implanted sub-pectoral, so not sure if under the skin vs under the muscle would make any difference.

If you haven't had the ICD done yet and are active, thin, or care what it will look like, I'd ask about under the breast for women or sub-pectoral for men/women. Mine just under the skin was many times painful, looked horrible (no real fat under my skin), and prevented me from anything that would press on it (backpacks, anything over my shoulder, etc).

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