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LifeVest

What is the LifeVest?

The LifeVest™ is a personal defibrillator worn by a patient at risk for sudden cardiac arrest (SCA). It monitors the patient’s heart continuously, and if the patient goes into a life-threatening arrhythmia, the LifeVest delivers a shock treatment to restore the patient’s heart to normal rhythm.

How does the LifeVest work?

LifeVest

There are two main components to the LifeVest: a garment and a monitor. The lightweight, comfortable garment is worn under clothing and contains electrodes to pick up the patient’s electrocardiogram (ECG). The monitor, about the size of a paperback book, is worn around the waist (like a fanny pack) or from a shoulder strap.

The monitor reads the patient’s ECG continuously. If the patient has ventricular tachycardia (rapid heartbeat) or ventricular fibrillation (rapid, uncontrolled, ineffective heartbeat), the device sounds an alarm to verify that the patient is nonresponsive. If the patient is conscious, the patient has time to respond to the alarms by pressing two buttons to stop the treatment sequence. If the patient does not respond, the device warns bystanders that a shock is about to be delivered. If the arrhythmia continues and the patient still does not respond, a treatment shock is delivered through the garment electrodes.

After the shock, if the patient’s heartbeat returns to normal, the alarms stop and the LifeVest returns to its normal monitoring mode. However, if the patient’s heartbeat does not return to normal and the arrhythmia continues, the treatment cycle repeats. Up to five treatment shocks can be delivered.

LifeVest attached to mannequin

LifeVest attached to mannequin


LifeVest worn by person

LifeVest worn by person

How is the LifeVest different from an automatic external defibrillator (AED)?

An AED requires a bystander to witness an arrhythmia event (such as ventricular fibrillation), then operate the device and administer treatment to the patient. In order to be effective, the treatment must be delivered with a few minutes after the event. The patient’s chances of survival drop about 10% for each minute after the onset of fibrillation, so it is imperative that a bystander take quick action.

In contrast, with the LifeVest no bystander intervention is required. The device continuously monitors the patient’s ECG, and if a lethal arrhythmia occurs, the LifeVest delivers a treatment shock typically within one minute. The LifeVest protects the patient even when the patient is alone or sleeping. This kind of protection cannot be provided by an AED.

How is the LifeVest different from an implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD)?

The ICD, as well as the LifeVest, provides continuous protection to the patient. The device may provide protection as a bridge to implantable defibrillator (ICD) implantation or cardiac transplantation. It can be useful in higher risk patients who are being considered for ICD implantation but who may not meet criteria yet for implantation. For example, patients who have had large myocardial infarctions or undergone coronary revascularization with decreased left ventricular function (LVEF < 30%) may be candidates for ICD implantation if their ventricular function does not improve after 1 or 3 months, respectively (MADIT-2 criteria). The LifeVest can provide protection during these periods. Patients who have an infection or malfunction of their ICD awaiting re-implantation could also use the LifeVest during the waiting period while their infection clears or until the ICD procedure is performed. Also, it can be potentially used in place of hospitalization for patients undergoing antiarrhythmic drug loading for other arrhythmias, such as atrial fibrillation, to protect against worsening of ventricular arrhythmias during the early drug initiation phase.

How does a doctor view patient data?

Patients transmit information from their devices by connecting them to a normal telephone line. The LifeVest then sends the data over the phone line to a secure, password protected database that is part of a Web site called LifeVest Network. Physicians can access LifeVest Network at any time and view patient information, including ECG recordings (both automatic and manual), compliance data (how long patients are wearing the device), noise data, and other device-related information.

How can I get the LifeVest?

Yes, the LifeVest has been available for commercial use since receiving FDA approval in October 2002. Speak to your doctor if you are interested in this technology.

Doctors vary in quality due to differences in training and experience; hospitals differ in the number of services available. The more complex your medical problem, the greater these differences in quality become and the more they matter.

Clearly, the doctor and hospital that you choose for complex, specialized medical care will have a direct impact on how well you do. To help you make this choice,  please review our Miller Family Heart and Vascular Institute Outcomes

Cleveland Clinic Heart and Vascular Institute Cardiologists and Surgeons

Choosing a doctor to treat your abnormal heart rhythm depends on where you are in your diagnosis and treatment.  The following Heart and Vascular Institute Sections and Departments treat patients with Arrhythmias:

The Heart and Vascular Institute also has specialized centers to treat certain populations of patients:

For younger patients with abnormal heart rhythms:

See: About Us to learn more about the Sydell and Arnold Miller Family Heart & Vascular Institute.

Contact

If you need more information, click here to contact us, chat online with a nurse or call the Miller Family Heart and Vascular Institute Resource & Information Nurse at 216.445.9288 or toll-free at 866.289.6911. We would be happy to help you.

Becoming a Patient

Abnormal Heart Rhythm Conditions

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Diagnostic tests are used to diagnose your abnormal heartbeat and the most effective treatment method.

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Our webchats and video chats give patients and visitors another opportunity to ask questions and interact with our physicians.

View a calendar of events and register for future chats. Check the calendar for topics that interest you!

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Why choose Cleveland Clinic for your care?

Our outcomes speak for themselves. Please review our facts and figures and if you have any questions don’t hesitate to ask.

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This information is about procedures and may include instructions specific to Cleveland Clinic. Please consult your physician for information pertaining to your specific procedure.

Reviewed: 05/15

Talk to a Nurse: Mon. - Fri., 8:30 a.m. - 4 p.m. (ET)

Call a Heart & Vascular Nurse locally 216.445.9288 or toll-free 866.289.6911.

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This information is provided by Cleveland Clinic and is not intended to replace the medical advice of your doctor or health care provider. Please consult your health care provider for advice about a specific medical condition.

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