Sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) is a life-threatening medical emergency that is defined by abrupt loss of heart function, cause patients to suddenly lose consciousness. SCA is the third leading cause of death in the United States. Nine out of 10 SCA victims die due to the effects of SCA. An estimated 356,000 individuals in the United States experience SCA each year.
SCA is caused by an electrical disturbance within the heart that disrupts the pumping of the heart, which then leads to the loss of blood flow to vital organs including the brain. When SCA occurs, the individual suffering from SCA may collapse suddenly and may not be able to respond. It is important to remember that SCA can lead to death within minutes of occurring (sudden cardiac death, SCD) and getting prompt treatment is crucial for survival.
Out-of-hospital occurrence of SCA typically have a survival rate of 10%. Each minute without medical assistance that passes after an SCA occurs decreases the chance of survival by 10%. When a person experiences a life-threatening rapid heart rhythm, the most effective treatment is defibrillation, an electrical shock to heart.
Many people confuse SCA with a heart attack, but they are not the same. While SCA is viewed as an electrical problem with the heart, a heart attack is a plumbing problem. A heart attack involves a blockage of blood flow to the heart. A victim of SCA is unresponsive and may need defibrillation within minutes. In contrast, a heart attack victim is generally responsive and does not need defibrillation, but may need to undergo a medical procedure to restore blood flow to the heart.
The ZOLL LifeVest wearable cardioverter defibrillator (WCD) is worn by patients who may be at risk for SCA. ZOLL LifeVest monitors the patient’s heart and if the individual experiences certain life-threatening rapid heart rhythms, LifeVest is designed to deliver a treatment shock to restore normal heart rhythm.
ZOLL LifeVest has three main components: a garment, an electrode belt and a monitor. The garment is to be worn under clothing directly against the patient’s skin. It holds the electrode belt which detects dangerous heart rhythms and delivers a treatment shock. The monitor is to be worn around the patient’s waist or with a shoulder strap. The monitor continuously records the patient’s heart rate. Because an irregular heart rhythm can occur at any time and without warning, patients should wear LifeVest at all times. It should only be removed for a short shower or bath. No matter where a patient is or the time of day, a patient can have protection from SCD with the LifeVest WCD.