Sudden cardiac death, a common cause of cardiac mortality, can be treated with either pharmacologic therapy or implantation of an implantable cardioverter defibrillator. Tremendous technologic advances have changed implantable cardioverter defibrillator therapy from shock-only therapy to multiprogrammable, tiered-therapy devices with backup pacing. Methods of implantation have changed from open chest to non-thoracotomy procedures. To provide optimal patient care, the critical care nurse is challenged to be knowledgeable about the different devices. In this article, the authors examine the commonalities and differences in device function in the seven currently available implantable cardioverter defibrillators and their impact on patient care

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