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Cardiac Life Vest Can Be a Lifesaver: July 6, 2013

It's called a LifeVest. A heart defibrillator patients wear like a vest that can actually save their life. Prescribed by a doctor, this device monitors the heartbeat and looks for bad rhythms.

“There’s a significant high risk of people dying after having a massive heart attack.  These are the folks that would definitely benefit from wearable defibrillator. Their risk of death is very high within the first 30 days,” says Dr. Murali Muppala, cardiologist with Lee Memorial Health System.

The LifeVest is worn on the outside of the body, but acts in the same way as a defibrillator, which can shock the heart back into action. These are meant for short-term use, usually three months or less.

“If their heart function gets better, that is more than 35 percent, the risk of sudden cardiac death goes down significantly.  If it doesn’t get better, we go ahead and implant the defibrillators,” says Dr. Muppala.

The wearable defibrillator is a small device, weighing less than two pounds. It has an outside monitor and battery pack and two EKG contacts fit close to the skin, but aren’t attached. Patients wear it around-the-clock, except when they’re in the shower.

“There is a 98% success rate with these wearable defibrillators. The other important factor we all ought to know is that more than 450,000 people die of sudden cardiac death every year. And more than 85 % of the time this happens at home,” says Dr. Muppala.

And more than half the time, there is no one around to help, making this LifeVest, a true lifesaver.