The third leading cause of death in the United States can happen suddenly and without warning. It’s Sudden cardiac arrest (SCA), a life-threatening emergency that occurs when the heart stops beating effectively. Unfortunately, only 1 in 10 victims survive as SCA leads to death (sudden cardiac death, SCD) in minutes if treatment is not immediately received.
Once a person experiences sudden cardiac arrest, their chances of surviving decrease by 10% for every minute that passes without treatment. SCA happens when the heart’s electrical system fails, triggering a dangerously fast heartbeat. This fast heartbeat causes the heart to quiver or shake instead of pumping blood to the body and brain. The most effective treatment to correct a rapid heart rhythm is defibrillation – an electrical shock to get the heart back to a normal rhythm.
Many people will confuse SCA and a heart attack, but they are not the same. A heart attack can be thought of as a plumbing problem within the heart. Heart muscle is injured or dies because part of the heart’s blood supply is reduced or blocked. When a person suffers a heart attack, they typically experience symptoms – like chest pain or shortness of breath – and remain awake. In contrast, sudden cardiac arrest victims quickly pass out and lose consciousness typically without any warning signs.
Slightly more than 360,000 Americans die of SCA every year. If someone is nearby who can administer CPR or apply a defibrillator device, chances of survival can double or triple. Some people known to be at a high risk of an SCA event can be prescribed a wearable vest, ZOLL LifeVest, fitted with electrodes that monitor the heart at all times. If the electrodes detect a life-threatening rapid heart rhythm, the device can automatically apply a treatment shock restore the normal rhythm.
The ZOLL LifeVest wearable cardioverter defibrillator (WCD) is worn directly against the skin under clothing. When worn as directed, the device can provide a constant safeguard against SCD. The only time the ZOLL LifeVest WCD should be removed is while taking a short shower or bath. With ZOLL LifeVest, a person can return to most daily activities with the peace of mind that they have protection from SCD.
While the ZOLL LifeVest WCD is designed to continuously monitor heart rhythm, it is important to note that no person is reviewing this data in real time. After recordings and health data are downloaded from the device, a physician can review to provide better medical care.
ZOLL LifeVest is used for a range of heart patients. The LifeVest WCD may be appropriate for those who have reduced heart function after a heart attack, before or after bypass surgery/stent placement, or for those with heart failure that places them at particular risk for SCD. On any given day, tens of thousands of people around the world have protection from SCD by wearing ZOLL LifeVest.