Sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) is a challenging condition because it is truly sudden. A person who experiences SCA can die within minutes if rapid treatment is not received – known as sudden cardiac death (SCD). But for certain heart patients who are known to be at risk for SCD, there is hope.
The LifeVest wearable cardioverter defibrillator (WCD), manufactured by ZOLL Medical, is a wearable device that can be prescribed for patients at risk of SCD so that they can have protection during their recovery from a cardiac event. When patients wear LifeVest as directed, it can be the difference between life and death. Users of LifeVest can attest to that, particularly a woman by the name of Bobbi Leverette who said, “LifeVest saved my life.”
Why LifeVest Should Be Worn
The LifeVest wearable cardioverter defibrillator is a device that can provide protection for people at risk of SCD. People who are at risk of SCD wear the device under their clothing and if certain life-threatening rapid heart rhythms are detected, the device is designed to send an electrical shock to the heart.
Bobbi Leverette was prescribed LifeVest when she was diagnosed as being at risk for SCD. She says, “Wear it every moment of every day because you just don’t know when sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) is going to happen. The fact that you don’t know means you need to wear it at all times.”
SCA can happen unexpectedly, often without any warning at all, and when it happens, SCD can occur within minutes. This does not leave enough time to call for medical assistance. For this reason, and because SCA can also happen during the night while you’re sleeping, it’s very important that the LifeVest WCD is worn at all times. The only time LifeVest should be taken off is while taking a short shower or a bath, and it’s best to try to do this when someone else is home.
LifeVest allows patients at risk of SCD to return to most of normal daily activities with the peace of mind that they have protection from sudden cardiac death. With LifeVest, patients can continue to do many of the things they enjoy, like spending time with family and friends, with the knowledge that they have protection.
The length of time patients need to wear LifeVest should be discussed with a doctor because it varies on a case-by-case basis. Generally, it’s worn temporarily until another more permanent treatment is decided upon or until a patient’s heart gets stronger.
What is Sudden Cardiac Death?
When the electrical system that controls the heartbeat fails, it can cause the heart to beat very rapidly, sometimes so fast and erratic that the heart cannot sufficiently pump blood to the brain and through the body, which can cause victims to pass out abruptly. This is called sudden cardiac arrest. It can happen without warning and if not treated immediately, it can lead to SCD within minutes. There are more than 325,000 people in the United States each year that die as a result of SCD, making it the largest natural cause of death.
There are many different health conditions that may increase a person’s risk for SCA. In Bobbi Leverette’s case, she had developed a pregnancy-related condition during the end of her pregnancy with her second child called peripartum cardiomyopathy, which is a type of heart failure. When her doctor told her that she was at risk of SCA, she says she “was terrified.” She had just had a baby two weeks prior and she also had a 10-year-old daughter. She was scared of dying and leaving her children and her husband alone.
Bobbi’s doctor prescribed her the LifeVest WCD, which she says gave her and her husband “peace of mind” because they knew she had protection as long as she wore the WCD. Bobbi returned home and wore her LifeVest for protection. One evening, Bobbi had just put her baby to bed and then laid down to rest. Before she had a chance to react or realize what was happening, she suffered SCA and lost consciousness. She never felt her heart racing. She had no warning. LifeVest detected the life-threatening rapid heart rhythm and sent a treatment shock to her heart. After the shock to her heart, Bobbi woke up. She says, “The moment I realized that the LifeVest saved my life, it was an amazing feeling.” Without LifeVest, Bobby realized she may have lost her life, leaving her children without a mother and her husband without a wife.
Bobbi says her whole perspective on life was changed as a result of experiencing SCA and being saved by LifeVest. In Bobbi’s words, “I take every moment as it comes. I try to complain less, be thankful more of each day that I have. LifeVest saved my life.”