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Beeping Medtronic Defibrillator

I am not a doctor and have no medical training.

I’m writing this post mostly because I couldn’t find any information on the internet when I needed it. Seven years ago (next month), I had a defibrillator implanted in my chest. It was recommended after a heart attack left me with a low EF, meaning my heart was damaged and not functioning as well as it should. It puts me at risk and the defibrillator is there to help in those situations.

In seven years, it has never triggered the full shock it can deliver, and next month it is due to be replaced due to a low battery condition. This isn’t about the low battery.

I have a defibrillator made by Medtronic. Every morning (the time can be changed by a tech) it does a check and if there’s a problem it will let you know with a series of tones. When the battery is low, it will generate a warning every morning at that time. Mine started generating that error last month and the technicians turned off that alert in the office during one of my visits so it wouldn’t keep bugging me.

A few weeks later, I was standing in line at the bank and this started:


It’s the same sound as the low-battery warning, so I thought that they may have just snoozed the alarm, but an hour later it sounded again, so I called the pacemaker/defibrillator clinic I go to and left a message. It was towards the end of the business day, so I guess I missed them. I didn’t get a call back. Four hours later, it beeped again. And four more. And four more. I figured the beeping during sleeping hours was probably a sign that this was more serious than I first thought, so I called the electrocardiology office.

Fortunately, my doctor was on call that weekend. He went to his office and had me upload the data from my device. After having a chance to review it, he told me the error was an indication of some irregular voltage readings, that could indicate a break in the leads. He sent me to the ER.

I spent the rest of the day in the ER getting X-rays and waiting for a Medtronic tech to run more thorough tests on the device. The technician told me that he had never encountered this condition in his twelve years of working for the company, but that he had been given a series of special steps to follow that would allow them to figure out if there was a break or related problem with the wiring.

The X-rays and tests didn’t reveal the source of the problem. Everything looked fine, so they decided to reset the error flag in the device and keep me overnight for observation. I went through the night without another alert and was tested again in the morning.

It was later explained to me that the fault was registering in what I think he called a coil. There are two of those and fortunately, the one that was indicated as the source of the problem could not generate a false condition that would trigger a full shock to my heart from the defibrillator. The other, however, could have. (Obviously, that’s quite dangerous and explains why they wanted me there overnight.)

If anything else happened while I had been there (or the beeping starts again while I’m home), they’ll want to move up my replacement surgery. I’m glad that there’s some time in-between. If this happens again, I’d much prefer it to be before the replacement than after, so they can deal with both the wiring and the device at the same time. (Replacing the wiring comes with risk, so I’m hoping it doesn’t come to that.)

Anyhow, if your device is beeping every four hours, or even just once has that tone in the video, you should probably call your doctor and upload the data from your device. Don’t wait it out. If your problem happens to register in a different location of the wiring/device, you could be in serious danger. Good luck.

Complete list of posts in this series
Defibrillator Saga 1
Defibrillator Saga 2
Defibrillator Saga 3
Defibrillator Saga Conclusion


Not in China (again)


Defibrillator Saga, Part Two


  1. Luis

    Wish well

  2. Milos Dumbraci

    If one would have read this just some years ago, it would have been cyberpunk fiction AF. Uploading your data and sending it to your doctor, having your coils checked and so on… TotalRecall stuff!No wonder you started a scifi magazine. On a more serious note, you are living in the most high tech country in the world, so that definitely helps with lessening the worries (I hope) and I am sure everything will be all right. Best wishes, Neil! Don’t lose your sense of humor, it’s the best defense in such moments!

  3. maria

    ty so much for posting this , my dad has same device doing this now.

    • You’re welcome. Best of luck to your father. Hopefully it turns out to be a simple fix. Mine wasn’t. After this post, it started beeping again and further diagnostics revealed a lead failure during my second stay in the hospital. They disabled that portion of the defibrillator via software and I was allowed to go home again. Ultimately, I had to have a specialist remove and replace the device AND the leads, which is significantly more complicated than the device replacement, particularly if the leads have been in there for more than a few years. (Like mine.)

  4. Thanks for the post. I am on my third pacemaker/combined defibralator and
    This one was just replaced in September 2020. Just was in office for check and just this morning 7am had that truck back up noise you posted . Last time indicated low battery which system and leads were replaced. Hope I don’t need surgery and replace again. Calling DR for appointment.

    • Hi Richard,

      Wishing you all the best. If it’s beeping every four hours, they’ll probably prioritize you and get you in quickly. Hopefully you won’t need another replacement so soon.

      Take care,


  5. Barry

    Wow I love google, my wife has had a pacemaker since 1995 (18 year old) and an icd since 2011, her alarm just started sounding last week, a few nights stay in the hospital and lots of tests revealed 2x faulty leads (high imepediance) they too turned off the alarm as her health and heart are fine and are working out how to change her 2 leads which are 20 + years old


    Melbourne Australia

  6. Dinah Hogg

    Hi, interesting reading! I will be having my Medtronic ICD replaced as my battery has about four more months of life. Do you know what grace period we have if it starts beeping before surgery? Can’t find anything on Medtronic site and techs tell me “ it depends “. Posted March 4 2021.

    • I have a recollection of one of the techs telling me that the low battery warning was set to reflect a certain percentage of battery remaining, rather than a particular amount of time remaining. The idea was to give a sufficient grace period for scheduling the replacement. Different owners will run down the battery at different speeds based on how often the device activates, so the percentage is can be more than generous in most cases. I believe they can silence or lower the setting on the low battery alarm. It’s really more there to get you to be proactive about scheduling. If the beeping is happening every few hours, however, that’s possibly something a bit more urgent than a low charge.

  7. Koi

    Wow thanks! Just had defibrillator inserted in November so 5 months ago!
    And it’s making that same noise every morning at 7am…has happened two mornings in a row have booked a gp appointment so hopefully nothing happens before then!

  8. Rita Johnston

    I have had my defibrillator put in of February this year 2021. In May was the first time the alarm went off sounding like an ambulance. That was 5am while sleeping and continued to go off every 4 hours around the clock until I got into the office to have it fixed. When I asked why this happened she said it was because the defibrillator went out of range. I don’t understand…out of range from what? So here I am 2 months and one week later July 2021 and then again this morning at 4am it went off again for about 3 seconds but then at 5am it is back to the Long length alarm again and then again at 1pm. So it looks like it will be a repeat from May, 5am, 9am, 1pm, 5pm around the clock until they can get me in there to fix it once again. This is ridiculous and frustrating. Plus the fact they charge me for an office visit for the malfunction of their device!! I have only had this defibrillator for 4 months and it has already malfunctioned 2 times. I am truly disappointed.

    • When they say out-of-range, they are talking about the lead impedance. If I recall correctly, the out-of-range boundaries can be adjusted, but are defaulted to the company’s recommended range. It will probably take them some work to figure out what is triggering that. They were unable to find anything wrong during my hospital stay, but in further posts in this series, I outline what they eventually found, the severity of the situation, and how it ended up requiring defibrillator and wiring replacement. Best of luck to you!

  9. Jacob

    Mine has been beeping but it sounds like a alarm clock but it does it for 10-15 seconds then stops but it does it every few hours idk what’s wrong would greatly appreciate if Someone Could tell me if they know what’s wrong kinda scaring me

    • Call your electrocardiologist. They will probably have you upload data from your device and/or have you come into their office for diagnostics. Even though it is the weekend, someone from their office should be on-call. If you can’t get anyone, someone in the local hospital emergency room should be able to figure out why it’s happening. No one will blame you for being overcautious with something like this. Best to be on top of it rather than wait.

  10. Shayna Robinson

    Thanks to you and Google I have an answer. Mine is also going off every four hours. Device clinic nurse told me he’d call in morning with device report…it’s both wonderful and scary to have a device directly attached to your heart that could shock you! Thanks for sharing so we all know not to take this too lightly. Medtronic basically says be alarmed but not too alarmed which is counterintuitive since it’s a damn ALARM in my chest. Haha

    • You’re welcome! Wishing you the best of luck and a safe & speedy resolution.

      The posts in this series get a surprising amount of traffic. Medtronic clearly needs to work on their website content. Doesn’t look like it’s improved much since all this happened to me.

  11. Richard

    Does anyone know if an ICD alarm stops alarming on its own or does it have to be a hospital visit to turn it off or can it be done remotely ?

    • Hi Richard,

      From what I have been told, this can’t be done remotely. Settings changes require the base unit that they use when you have an in-person diagnostic. It’s a safety thing. They turned mine off at my electrocardiologist’s office.

  12. Richard Houghton

    My device gave me an appropriate shock. I received another surprise when my device alarmed (siren noise) every day until I attended a cardiac unit and had the alarm reset. I am now going to investigate if it’s possible to turn off the alarm permanently.

    • I’m guessing your shock was the big jolt. Haven’t had that myself, but I was told that if I did, I was to report in right away. Not surprised that they have it rigged up with a alarm to get you to go into the office. They want to run diagnostics after those.

      In the conversations I had with the techs who were trying to figure out what was going on with my defibrillator, I learned that the alarms are configurable. They can change the thresholds for some triggers, which, in theory, would suggest that they can disable it. The nagging every four hours alert is to make sure even the most reluctant patient eventually comes in (or has a family member drag them in). Apparently, it’s saved more than a few lives, so I’d bet they’ll be reluctant to turn it off.

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