The early weeks
In the first
weeks when your wound is healing, you should avoid swinging your arms
higher than your shoulders and activities such as golf, swimming and
bowling. Carrying anything heavy, such as school books, should also be
The scar will
gradually get less red and eventually fade to a white line. Gently
massaging moisturising cream into it can make it less noticeable. So girls
should still be able to wear strappy tops without the scar being very
What do I tell my friends?
It helps to
think about what you are going to tell your friends before they ask. Be
prepared and have a response ready. Some of your friends will be cool
about it and others may be scared by it. You don't have to tell everyone
but it may be useful to tell close friends. You can talk the issue over
with your mum, dad or a member of the hospital team looking after you.
You may be asked
why you haven't been at school and why you have a scar. People don't
always need a lot of information but are just curious. Talking to other
young people with ICDs can be helpful as they can tell you about their own
You can go back
to school as soon as you feel well enough. It’s a good idea to tell the
teachers that you have an ICD just in case. If they want to know more
about it, they can ring your clinical nurse specialist for advice.
Exercise and sport
You should be
able to do a similar amount of exercise as before. If you are planning to
start a new exercise programme, check with your doctor. You might need an
exercise test to check that the settings on your ICD are right when your
heart has to pump harder than normal. You should avoid some sports,
especially if they’re contact sports like rugby or judo. A direct hit to
your chest could damage the ICD and you.
reason why your ICD should get in the way of your social life. But if you
have any questions, ask you nurse specialist for advice.
If you are in
hospital for something else, do tell those looking after you about your
ICD. Some scans and treatments can stop the ICD working properly, so you
need to avoid them. These include MRI scans that use strong magnetic
fields, lithotripsy that uses sound waves and cautery that uses heat. If
you have radiotherapy that uses x-ray beams and diathermy that uses
electricity to create heat, you should also tell your doctor.
If you are
having an operation, the doctor should contact your heart team for advice.
You may need to have extra monitoring during the operation or certain
surgical techniques might have to be avoided. We suggest you
wear a medical identity bracelet or necklace at all times. Your nurse
specialist can tell you about this and also supply you with an identity
card saying you have an ICD.
phone should not interfere with your ICD but we advise you to avoid
carrying it in your breast pocket or the strap of your bag.
Your ICD is
designed to cope with common household items like microwave ovens, so they
will not cause any problems. If you are likely to come into contact with
industrial equipment, check with your doctor.
will not affect your ICD (but see security gates and checks below). You
may find you have more trouble getting travel insurance. Before you go,
find out about ICD centres near your destination and get in touch with
them to warn them. Hopefully you won’t need them but carry the information
with you at all times just in case.
libraries and airports have security gates. Walking through them at normal
speed won’t harm your ICD but try not to hang around near them. Your ICD
might set them off. It can help to warn the security guards and show them
your identity card just in case you set them off. You should not be
searched by a handheld scanner as it uses magnetism. Show the guard you
identify card and ask to be hand searched instead.
If you feel ill
If you feel
faint, sit or lie down immediately. This could be an early sign that your
heart rhythm is affected. If your ICD gives you a shock, it is safer if
you’re sitting or lying down. If you have one shock and then feel better
immediately, make a note in your diary. You can call your nurse specialist
if you want to talk about it.
If you have more
than one shock or still feel ill afterwards, stay where you are and ask
someone to ring 999 for an ambulance.