In general, "manufacturers of ICDs do a tremendous job of making ICDs safe," Hjortshoj said. Still, "an ICD has to be sensitive to very small changes in the electrical impulses coming from the heart," which makes it vulnerable to some electrical signals originating outside of the heart, he said.
"It is luckily a rare phenomenon, but even in a very regulated society like Denmark, these occurrences take place," Hjortshoj said. "It is very essential that the ICD works correctly and triggers on the right event, otherwise it may be hostile."
Properly monitored, "the ICD is a safe treatment," he said. "But the authorities need to be aware that the regulations about electrical equipment should be followed."
Learn more about implantable defibrillators from the American Heart Association.
SOURCES: Kristian Eskensen, M.D, cardiologist; Gentofte Hospital, Hellerup, Denmark; Soren Hjortshoj, M.D., staff specialist, Aalborg Hospital, Aalborg, Denmark; March 26, 2009, New England Journal of Medicine
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