Heart rate—check and reset

Implantable cardiac defibrillators (ICD), which are devices used to monitor heart arrhythmias and help protect against sudden cardiac arrest, require regular maintenance and testing. Some testing is done by phone or computer by your doctor or electrophysiologist to ensure the device’s battery and wires are working properly. If you have had a change in health or medication that may affect ICD functioning, your doctor may also want to perform noninvasive program stimulation (NIPS) testing.

How NIPS testing works

NIPS is a nonsurgical, noninvasive test, but it does require general anesthesia (you’ll be asleep during the test). Your doctor will use the ICD itself, sending messages to the device and signaling it to stimulate your heart to a rapid rate. At the same time, your doctor will be testing the device’s expected response, which is to speed up or slow down your heart rate, to return it to normal. Or, the device may deliver a shock which, if you were conscious, would be your signal that something is going wrong and you need to get help.

If the ICD does not perform as expected, your doctor can adjust the ICD’s settings and test it again until it performs correctly.

The test itself takes only about 15 minutes and you will be able to go home a few hours later, after the anesthesia has worn off.

As with any test or procedure requiring anesthesia, you will be asked to not eat or drink anything for 12 hours beforehand. Your health care provider can help you prepare for the test and will answer any questions you might have.

To schedule an appointment with a Lankenau Heart Institute specialist, call 1.866.CALL.MLH (1.866.225.5654) or use our secure online appointment request form.