Electroconvulsive therapy in patients with cardiac pacemakers and implantable cardioverter defibrillators

Tamara J. Dolenc, Roxann D. Barnes, David L. Hayes, Keith G. Rasmussen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

45 Scopus citations


Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) is used to treat major depressive illness, especially in elderly and medically frail patients. Not uncommonly, these patients have cardiac pacemakers or implantable cardioverter defibrillators (ICDs). Only a few case reports in the literature describe the use of ECT in such patients. Herein we review our ECT experience treating 26 pacemaker patients and 3 ICD patients. All patients obtained significant antidepressant benefits with ETC. Only one serious cardiac event occurred, a case of supraventricular tachycardia (SVT) requiring a stay on the cardiac intensive care unit. The SVT resolved and the patient went on to receive further uncomplicated ECT treatments. We conclude from this experience that with proper pre-ECT cardiac and pacemaker/defibrillator assessment, ECT can be safely and effectively administered to patients with an implanted cardiac device.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1257-1263
Number of pages7
JournalPACE - Pacing and Clinical Electrophysiology
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2004


  • Cardiac pacemaker
  • Electroconvulsive therapy
  • Implantable cardioverter defibrillator

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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