Sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) occurs when the electrical impulses of the heart are disrupted and triggers a dangerously fast heartbeat. This fast heartbeat causes the heart to quiver or shake instead of pumping blood to the brain and body. If treatment is not immediately received, death (sudden cardiac death, SCD) can occur within minutes.
SCA happens suddenly and often without warning. A victim will suddenly pass out and lose consciousness. This renders the victim unable to call for help so that they can immediately receive treatment. The most effective treatment to stop or correct certain life-threatening rapid heart rhythms is defibrillation, which is an electrical shock to get the heart back to a normal rhythm.
The risk of sudden cardiac death is high for certain heart patients. You may be at a higher risk for SCD if you have or experience a low ejection fraction (EF) or weak heart muscle following a heart attack, new diagnosis of non-ischemic cardiomyopathy, or new diagnosis of heart failure. If you are at risk of SCA due to these conditions, your doctor may prescribe the ZOLL LifeVest wearable cardioverter defibrillator (WCD).
ZOLL LifeVest is a defibrillator designed to protect individuals who are at risk for SCA. Unlike implantable cardioverter defibrillators (ICD), LifeVest is worn directly against the skin. LifeVest is designed to detect certain life-threatening rapid heart rhythms and automatically deliver a treatment shock to save the patient’s life. The device does not require the assistance of another person or emergency personnel for it to work, so it can protect patients even when they are alone.
For Gary Devol of Phoenix, Arizona, the ZOLL LifeVest WCD was a lifesaver. On two different occasions, Devol’s heart went into a life-threatening rapid heart rhythm. He quickly lost consciousness and was unable to call for help. LifeVest detected the rapid heart rhythm and delivered a treatment shock to restore his normal heart rhythm and save his life on both occasions.
SCA can happen unexpectedly at any time. Therefore, patients are directed to wear the LifeVest WCD 24/7, only removing for a short shower or bath. LifeVest is intended to be worn while patients are at high risk of SCA. Most patients will wear the device temporarily, until their heart gets stronger or until a long-term treatment is decided.