What can we expect after defibrillator surgery?

Nefer asked...

My husband was diagnosed with congestive heart failure on Tuesday. His heart is working at 15% and they are going to install a defibrillator tomorrow and put him on lasiks. He is 42 years old.What the hell can I expect?

Expert Answer

Carolyn Strimike, N.P. and Margie Latrella, N.P. are cardiac nurse practitioners specializing in the prevention of heart disease and stroke. They have over 40 years of nursing experience in Cardiology between them. The main goal of their work is to counsel, motivate and empower women to adopt healthy lifestyle choices.

First of all we hope everything goes well with the defibrillator procedure. The implantable defibrillator is used to deliver a shock to the heart when a life threatening irregular heart rhythm is detected. We have taken care of many people who have had these devices for years and have done well, it is a life saving device. The defibrillator procedure is relatively common in people with weak heart muscle. Some people have the device for years and they never fire other people have the device deliver a shock several times a year. Lasix is a diuretic or "water pill" which helps people with weak heart muscle eliminate excess water or fluid from their bodies. By preventing excess fluid retention this should help your husband's breathing, prevent weight gain (from excess fluid) and prevent edema (swelling of the feet and ankles). We would recommend that you check your local hospital or local American Heart Association chapter for heart failure and/or implantable defibrillator support groups. Also you can visit the American Heart Association website or http://www.abouthf.org/ they have alot of information about living with heart failure. Symptoms of weakened heart muscle can be controlled with medications, salt and fluid restrictions. Also make a list of specific questions for your husband's cardiologist and discuss them at your next visit.