Sudden cardiac arrest or SCA occurs when the heart suddenly stops beating. The condition is typically due to an electrical disturbance in the heart that causes the heart to stop beating effectively and prevents blood flow to the body. SCA is a life-threatening emergency that affects approximately 356,000 people of all ages.
SCA is not a heart attack. A heart attack occurs when blood flowing to a portion of the heart is blocked. With a heart attack, a person may feel severe chest pain or other symptoms. They usually remain awake and can call for help. With SCD, on the other hand, there are typically no signs that something is about to happen – a person suddenly loses consciousness and is not able to call for help.
If a victim of SCA does not immediately receive treatment, death can occur within minutes. The most effective treatment to stop or correct certain life-threatening rapid heart rhythm is defibrillation, which is an electrical shock to get the heart back to a normal rhythm. For certain heart patients, the ZOLL LifeVest wearable cardioverter defibrillator (WCD) can be an important part of their care plan to ensure they have protection from SCA.
What is ZOLL LifeVest?
ZOLL LifeVest is a defibrillator worn by those who are at risk of sudden cardiac arrest. LifeVest is designed to detect certain life-threatening rapid heart rhythms and automatically deliver a treatment shock to restore your normal rhythm. The entire event, from detecting a life-threatening rapid heartbeat to automatically delivering a shock, usually takes less than a minute.
LifeVest is comprised of three main components – the garment, the electrode belt, and the monitor. The garment is worn directly against the patient’s skin and contains the electrode belt, which is designed to detect dangerous heart rhythms and deliver a treatment shock. The monitor is worn around the waist or with a shoulder strap. It continuously records the patient’s heart rate.
Is the LifeVest WCD different from an implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD)?
Like an ICD, LifeVest is designed to provide continuous protection against SCA. ICDs are implanted in chest, whereas LifeVest is an external defibrillator worn against the skin. While an ICD is a permanent solution, LifeVest is typically prescribed for temporary use, until a patient’s heart gets stronger or until a long-term treatment is decided.