Date of Award


Document Type

Independent Study

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)




The treatment of choice for ventricular arrhythmias (VA) and the prevention of sudden cardiac death (SCD) is an Internal Cardioverter Defibrillator (ICD) (Burke, Hallas, Clark-Carter, Whitel, & Connelly, 2003). ICDs are surgically implanted and automatically discharge a 25-35 joule electrical shock directly to the heart if a VA is sensed to convert the heart back to a normal rhythm (Keren, Aaron, & Veltri, 1991). ICDs save people’s lives, yet they can also cause an increased amount of emotional stress, mainly anxiety.

A literature review was conducted to evaluate the emotional impacts of the ICD implantation, shock therapy, and the patient’s emotional well-being. There are seven main foci of this review. Evidence reveals that many people suffer emotional distress after ICD implantation and ICD shock therapy.

Nurses have a unique relationship with patients, allowing nurses to provide education, interventions, and holistic care to help alleviate the anxiety which can make patients more prone to arrhythmias. Formal nursing education is needed to provide nurses with the knowledge that they are a key asset in helping to support this population. At the culmination of this project, a presentation was given to cardiovascular nurses at a Midwestern tertiary hospital regarding the emotional effects of the ICD. Included in the presentation was the relevant problem of the emotional affects of ICDs, nursing and medicinal interventions, and a thorough understanding of what these patients endure emotionally.