(Un)expected Reasons For an ICD

A recent post from Dr. Wes, News You Can Use: Sex and Your Defibrillator, reminded me about a patient I had taken care of in the recent past.

He was relatively young but suffering from dilated cardiomyopathy.  He had been admitted after a successful VT ablation and ICD placement and was recuperating overnight on our floor to ensure that the interventions had been successful.  As I got report the nurse gossiped to me that she had been told that he had passed out during sex and ultimately ended up getting the ablation and ICD.  But the off-going nurse didn’t have all the details. I had to find out.  How do you get from passing out to ablation and ICD?  Besides the obvious?  (here’s the ACC/AHA Guidelines for reference)

So as I was doing my initial assessment I asked, “What caused you to get to this point?”  I figure, give the ability to obfuscate and deny, or come clean.

“Well, you probably heard rumors from the other nurses, so I should start from the top…” he said and told me the colorful story.

He had been dealing with effects of the cardiomyopathy for some time and it was cramping his, er, style.  So he decided one evening to buy some herbal marijuana analogue and take it with his wife and see what happened.  In the middle of he act, he passed out cold.  Unresponsive for a good 20 seconds.  Scared the Hell out of his wife, he said.  She freaked out, called EMS who took him to the ED for treatment.

That started the cascade of events which the end was him getting ablated and an ICD placed.  He looked up at me and said, “A guy’s gotta’ do what he needs?  Right?  The doc doesn’t know if it was the K2 or the underlying issue I already had with my heart.  So he decided to fix it.  Now I’m good to go!”

We both got a good chuckle out of it, but it turned serious when he asked about restrictions.  Gave him the usual spiel and pointedly asked him to talk to his EP doc about it.  Just to be safe.

“Now I just have to convince my wife that it’s OK to have sex again.  I scared her too bad and she’s a little hesitant now.” he said to end.

“Just be careful,” was all I could tell him.  And, “No, I won’t tell her!”

So often we get guys who are asking when they can resume relations after heart attacks, stents, pacemakers and even after open heart surgery.  I guess certain priorities take precedence in life!


One Comment

  1. Sooo true!!! In my 5 years of cardiac nursing experience, still haven’t had a woman ask when she could resume sexual activity during the discharge process.


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