LifeVest can stop sudden cardiac arrest - KFVS12 News & Weather Cape Girardeau, Carbondale, Poplar Bluff

LifeVest can stop sudden cardiac arrest

By Stephanie Byars - bio | email

CAPE GIRARDEAU, MO (KFVS - Sudden cardiac arrest is one of the leading causes of death in the United States, killing more people every year than breast cancer, lung cancer and HIV combined.

However some doctors are using a new tool to help prevent that.

It's called a LifeVest. It's a heart defibrillator patients actually put on like a vest and can save their lives!

Last December, Keith Gorda of Ellsinore learned he has severe heart disease.

"My heart could stop at any time," Gorda said.

The Zoll LifeVest was the first line of defense Doctor Paul Holcomb prescribed to keep that from happening.

"This device watches the heartbeat that the patient has and watches bad rhythms," Dr. Holcomb said.

The LifeVest is a heart defibrillator that a patient wears under his or her clothing. It monitors the heart constantly, shocking the heart if it stops.

Dr. Holcomb says the vest works just as well as an implantable defibrillator, but works like a band for patients.

"The patient has a window of time where the heart can get better," Dr. Holcomb said. "This protects them for that period of time," he added.

If the heartbeat gets out of rhythm, the LifeVest beeps loudly. It's a sound Gorda heard in the two months or so he wore the LifeVest.

"It would set up an alarm like a vibration first," Gorda said. "If the vibration wasn't caught then an alarm would go off," he added.

If the heart stops, the vest takes over.

"If the device sees that it can detect it and shock the patient back into a normal rhythm," Dr. Holcomb said.

Luckily Gorda never got that shock, but says wearing the vest gave him peace of mind, which was priceless.

Today he has an implanted defibrillator to keep his heart in check. He has this advice:

"I think everyone should remember to have their blood pressure checked.," Gorda said.

A patient wearing the LifeVest should wear it 98% of the time, but can take it off to shower or for other purposes.

However if it's not on, it can't work.

Check with your doctor to find out to learn if this a treatment that might be right for you.

Copyright 2011 KFVS. All rights reserved.

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