A wearable defibrillator is an external device that monitors and automatically detects ventricular arrhythmias (such as tachycardia or fibrillation). When activated, it may deliver an electric shock to restore your heartbeat back to normal.
Defibrillators, also known as implantable cardioverter-defibrillators (ICDs), can be used to protect patients from sudden cardiac death due to life-threatening ventricular arrhythmias. Additionally, ICDs have the capacity to correct a slow heart rhythm known as bradycardia.
What is a wearable defibrillator?
Wearable defibrillators are medical devices that monitor your heartbeat and can deliver an electric shock to help it beat normally again in case of life-threatening arrhythmias, such as ventricular fibrillation or ventricular tachycardia. They’re commonly used by those at higher risk for sudden cardiac arrest due to heart conditions that make it hard for their heart to function normally.
This device consists of a vest with an electrode belt and monitor. The vest can be worn under your clothing 24 hours a day while the electrode belt crosses over your chest and back and is held in place with shoulder straps. You may choose to have the monitor attached directly to your belt or in a holster.
It is essential to follow your provider’s instructions when using the WCD. Position the vest properly and ensure the electrodes make good contact with your skin. Additionally, change the battery as instructed.
Your healthcare provider can instruct you on how to use your wearable defibrillator and answer any queries. Make sure that everyone in your circle of family and friends knows how to operate the device in case an emergency arises.
If you experience a life-threatening arrhythmia and lose consciousness, someone must press the response button on your wearable defibrillator. This will stop your heart from receiving an electrical shock so that help can be given promptly.
Patients who are temporarily unable to have an ICD implanted (due to an infection, for example) can use a wearable cardioverter-defibrillator as a temporary “bridge” until an implantable device can be provided. This method has proven safe and successful in decreasing sudden cardiac death rates among these individuals.
The WCD has proven useful for patients with heart failure whose ejection fraction is 30% or those who have had an AMI and are waiting for ICD implantation. Additionally, it may be suitable for those not eligible for implantation but who have an increased risk of ventricular arrhythmias that could cause sudden cardiac arrest.
Why might I need to wear a wearable defibrillator?
Wearable defibrillators are battery-operated devices designed to detect irregular and potentially life-threatening heartbeats known as arrhythmias. When activated, the defibrillator can deliver a treatment shock in order to correct the abnormality and restore your heart rate back to normal.
A typical WCD system consists of a vest, monitor, and electrode belt that rests against your skin during both day and night. The monitor is an interactive touchscreen display of heart rate and rhythm. Other important components include its lightweight design and small battery pack as well as an app that translates your data into appropriate alerts.
The device also boasts a host of unique features not found on your typical mobile phone. For instance, it’s capable of communicating with your doctor via wireless signal – an innovative first for wearable technology. Furthermore, you can send special messages to family members in case of injury or coma.
The best part is that it can be a lifesaver when you need it most. A wearable defibrillator may be instrumental in saving your life, so speak to your healthcare provider about whether this type of device is right for you.
How will I know if I need to wear a wearable defibrillator?
A wearable defibrillator is an emergency device that can save your life in case of sudden cardiac arrest (SCA). It checks your heart rate and rhythm, then shocks (defibrillates) it if it detects an unsafe abnormal heart rhythm. This device may be beneficial to those at higher risk for SCA or those who have had previous heart attacks that have weakened their hearts.
Typically, wearable defibrillators are only temporary while someone waits to receive an implanted defibrillator; they’re sometimes referred to as “bridge devices.”
If you qualify for a permanently implanted device, your doctor will typically recommend placing an ICD inside your chest near your heart. However, in certain cases, there may be temporary contraindications that prevent this procedure. In such cases, they may recommend wearing an external defibrillator as an alternative solution.
Wear a vest that has electrodes or pads against your skin. It may feel a little uncomfortable at first, but should not interfere with daily activities. Furthermore, the vest is lightweight and won’t disrupt sleep patterns. Finally, measurements will be taken so the vest fits you correctly.
The vest can be worn around your waist or attached to a shoulder strap. Your healthcare team will instruct you on how to position the vest so that the electrodes make good contact with the skin. You may need to adjust the length of the straps so they are comfortable for you.
Once you are fitted for a vest, it should be worn at all times so your healthcare team can monitor how you are feeling and use the data to decide if an ICD or other treatment is necessary.
Your vest is programmed to alert you by beeping or sounding when it detects an irregular heart rhythm and then automatically shocks your heart if necessary, potentially saving your life in case of sudden or unexpected SCA.
Some vests can even track the time you spend wearing it and your heart rate while doing so. This data can then be sent over a phone line to your care team for analysis.
What happens if I lose consciousness?
Wearable defibrillators are small monitors and vests that can give your heart a shock if it detects an arrhythmia or irregular heartbeat. This helps restore regular beats in the chest and avoid sudden cardiac events like heart attacks.
A cardiac LifeVest consists of a lightweight fabric vest and a small monitor that you wear all the time (except while showering or taking a bath). The monitor picks up your electrocardiogram data and sends it wirelessly to your healthcare provider via signal.
This vest is constructed with lightweight, washable fabrics and includes cushioned electrocardiogram sensors that rest against your skin without irritating it. Furthermore, it stores defibrillation therapy pads so they’re easily accessible when you need them.
If your heart condition puts you at greater risk for sudden cardiac arrest (SCA), speak to your doctor about wearing a defibrillator. They may prescribe medication such as beta blockers to reduce this risk or suggest installing an implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD), which is a device placed inside your chest that reduces SCA risk.
Researchers at UC San Francisco are researching the effectiveness of wearable defibrillators in patients who have a low ejection fraction, or percentage of blood pumped out of the heart by each beat. This can occur if heart muscles become weak or damaged, leading to sudden cardiac arrest (SCA).
In a clinical trial of patients with low ejection fraction, researchers discovered that wearing a wearable cardioverter defibrillator (WCD) reduced the rate of sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) among those who received it within 90 days after their heart attack. However, they also noted that consistent use of the WCD was necessary for a successful reduction in SCA rates.
This study is part of the larger VEST project, or Wearable Cardioverter-Defibrillator Study, which seeks to determine whether these devices can improve outcomes for heart attack victims. UCSF is leading this multinational, international clinical trial.