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Behavioural and emotional implications of implantable cardioverter-defibrillators in the young and in athletes

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  13 January 2017

Brynn E. Dechert*
University of Michigan Congenital Heart Center, Ann Arbor, Michigan, United States of America
Correspondence to: B. E. Dechert, MSN, CPNP, FHRS, University of Michigan Congenital Heart Center, 1540 E. Hospital Dr, Ann Arbor, MI 48109, United States of America. Tel: 734-763-2191; Fax: 734-232-7175; E-mail:


Despite the life-saving capabilities of implantable cardioverter-defibrillators, they may have implications on behavioural and emotional well-being and have been shown to negatively affect patients’ psychosocial functioning. Children and CHD patients with these devices are at higher risk for complications, and therefore may have higher risk of psychosocial dysfunction including depression, anxiety, and a decrease in overall quality of life. In addition, these patients may be restricted from activities, which may also contribute to psychosocial dysfunction. Recommendations published in 2015 support a more liberal approach to athletic participation in this patient population compared with previous guidelines. Approaches to limit psychosocial dysfunction include education, minimisation of shocks, and psychosocial therapy. Psychosocial dysfunction should be assessed at each clinic visit, and information regarding intervention should be provided to patients and their families as needed. Psychosocial dysfunction may be debilitating, and healthcare providers should facilitate and support normal psychosocial function by offering resources as needed.

Original Articles
© Cambridge University Press 2017 

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