“I thought I fell asleep and just fell on the floor.” That’s what Gary Devol, 70, said of his first sudden cardiac arrest experience. Thankfully he was wearing the ZOLL LifeVest, a wearable defibrillator that can provide a constant safeguard against sudden cardiac death. LifeVest is designed to detect a life-threatening rapid heart rhythm and automatically deliver a treatment shock to restore a patient’s normal rhythm. This is exactly what happened when Devol’s heart started beating too quickly. Two days later, the same thing happened while Devol was at a church conference and nearly lost his life. Again, LifeVest detected the life-threatening rapid heart rhythm and delivered a treatment shock, which restored his normal rhythm. This is just one example of the impact the wearable defibrillator has had on patients and their families.
Sudden Cardiac Arrest
Unlike in the case of a heart attack, individuals who experience a sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) do not exhibit any symptoms that could alert them of the impending condition. During a sudden cardiac arrest event, the heart’s electrical control system malfunctions, causing the heart to flutter and shudder, rather than beating effectively. Without the ability to properly pump blood to other parts of the body, the individual experiencing an SCA event can immediately lose consciousness. That’s exactly what happened to Gary. During both of his SCA events, he lost consciousness before he had any chance to respond.
The sudden loss of consciousness may alert bystanders to call for immediate medical assistance, but as time is of the essence in the case of SCA events, lengthy ambulance arrival times may prove to be lethal. Without treatment, death occurs in minutes. An individual’s chance of survival dips an estimated 10 percent every minute without proper medical attention and resuscitation. For those who experience sudden cardiac arrest while alone, the loss of consciousness renders it impossible to summon aid in a timely fashion.
How LifeVest Works
LifeVest is composed of three main components, a garment that is a wearable vest; an electrode belt, which is attached to the garment; and a monitor. As a noninvasive device, the garment is worn under clothing, and the monitor can be attached to a belt loop or worn with a shoulder strap. Patients are provided with training on wearing the garment, washing the garment, changing monitor batteries, and overall best practices. Patients are traine