A defibrillator implant comes with many advantages, the most prominent of all being able to deliver defibrillation treatment to your heart at a moments notice. However, a defibrillator implant is not for everyone and sometimes the disadvantages outweigh the advantages one might receive once being implanted with a defibrillator device such as an implantable cardioverter defibrillator or a cardiac resynchronization therapy defibrillator.
Every persons cardiac health is different, and whether or not you may qualify as an optimal candidate for a defibrillator implant is up to your health team to decide. In general, for those that are clearly at risk of sudden cardiac arrest, a defibrillator implant’s disadvantages are few and far between, if any. The disadvantages covered in this article range from a defibrillator implants costs, post–implementation lifestyle changes, and anxiety and depression. Of course, surgery itself is a possible disadvantage for some people, but it should be noted that the surgery required for implanting a defibrillation device is not very invasive and recovery times are relatively short (about two days) compared to other cardiac surgeries.
Perhaps the most inhibitive aspect that people encounter when first researching the possibility of getting a defibrillator implant is the cost. Defibrillator implants usually range anywhere from $50,000-$100,000. This does not necessarily include the cost of surgery which can be another $50,000. These are of course ballpark estimates and should be taken with a grain of salt as your health coverage will be the determining factor for how much you pay. If you live in the United States, speak with your health insurance company about the amount of coverage they provide for implanted cardiac devices. Maintaining a defibrillator implant will add additional costs over the years, which is typically around $1000 per year. For patients who live in areas with socialized healthcare, these costs may be much lower so be sure to speak to your physician. If you think you may need financial assistance in order to receive a defibrillator implant, check out our article that details the cost of a defibrillator implant.
If you and your doctor decide that getting a defibrillator implant is the most effective course of treatment for your cardiac illness, then you should be aware of the lifestyle changes that you will be faced with after receiving your implant. The disadvantages of having a defibrillator implant in your everyday life will vary depending upon your previous lifestyle. After surgery, you should stay away from electromagnetic fields which may interfere with your defibrillator implant. However, this is easier said than done as many electronic devices feature electrical and magnetic radiation which can compromise your device. In addition, most people interact with these types of devices on a regular basis either at home or at work. One of the most common disadvantages of the defibrillator implant is having to keep your cell phone, MP3 player, and other small electrical devices away from your heart. Thankfully, the consequences of not doing this are not severe, but nevertheless proper actions should be taken when near equipment that is not conducive for the defibrillator to work properly. Your doctor will go over with you the types of equipment and devices that you should avoid; you can also find more info about the precautions of defibrillator implants here.
Another disadvantage of receiving any type of cardiac implantable device is the possibility of malfunction. In rare cases, you may experience an unnecessary shock from your defibrillator implant which can be painful and life-threatening. These scenarios are extremely unlikely when these devices are implanted properly and function correctly. It is important not to be too concerned about the malfunctioning of your device as this can lead to unnecessary anxiety and even depression, which was concluded in a recent medical study. In addition, the study also concluded that anxiety and depression was some what common among those outfitted with a defibrillator implant, ranging between 15% and 35% of a clinical testing group. Therefore, anxiety and depression is a possible disadvantage of a defibrillator implant, especially if you exhibit signs of anxiety and depression before receiving one.