• The implantable cardioverter-defibrillator (ICD) is today widely used for the treatment of sudden cardiac near-death episodes as a result of malignant ventricular dysrhythmia.
• After examining the literature, only four descriptive studies, all carried out in the USA, with a qualitative analysis based on ICD-patients’ own perspectives on their life situation have been found.
• The aim of this study was to describe how patients living with an ICD-device in south-western Sweden conceive their life situation.
• As the focus was on patients’ conceptions seen from a holistic perspective, an analysis inspired by phenomenography was employed on a strategic sample of 15 ICD-patients.
• Six categories emerged: a feeling of safety, a feeling of gratitude, a feeling of being, having a network, having a belief in the future, and gaining awareness.
• Although the findings cannot be generalized because of the descriptive research design, they illuminate the beneficial as well as intrusive effects of such a device, and emphasize the need for support groups for patients and families as well as further education for personnel in hospital and primary health care.