Will a defibrillator protect my husband from a heart attack?

Katamrine asked...

Two weeks ago I did CPR on my husband for 16 minutes after he had a heart attack. Once the ambulance arrived they shocked him and he started to come around. They took him to the hospital where they put in a defibrillator. The Cardiologist says I can be assured now nothing will happen to my husband. My anxiety level is through the roof that something is going to happen again with my husband's heart... do I have reason to be concerned? He had a valve replaced in 2006

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.

I am sorry to hear about your husband's recent heart attack. You definitely did a great job starting CPR! A defibrillator will shock the heart when it goes into abnormal rhythms like ventricular fibrillation or ventricular tachycardia, which can be life-threatening heart rhythms. These rhythms can be caused by a heart attack. A heart attack occurs when there is a blockage in an artery of the heart preventing blood flow and oxygen to reach an area of the heart. This can still occur in a person with a defibrillator, but there is some protection because a shock can be delivered immediately if one of the life threatening rhythms occurs.

It is very important to control all of the risk factors for heart attack such as blood pressure, cholesterol, blood sugar, stop smoking, eat a healthy diet, exercise (as allowed by the physician)in order to further decrease the risk for future heart problems.