What is Sudden Cardiac Arrest?
Sudden cardiac arrest, or SCA for short, occurs when the heart suddenly stops beating effectively. The heart’s electrical system controls the heartbeat and when this system fails, it may trigger a dangerously fast heartbeat. This fast heartbeat causes the heart to quiver or shake instead of pumping blood to the body and brain. When this happens, a victim can suddenly pass out. Without treatment, death occurs in minutes.
The risk of sudden cardiac death is high for certain heart patients. You may be at a higher risk for SCD if you have or experience one of the following:
- A low ejection fraction (EF) or weak heart muscle
- Prior heart attack
- Heart failure
- A history of sudden cardiac death in your family
- A viral infection in your heart
What is Sudden Cardiac Arrest Characterized by?
Some people confuse SCA with heart attacks, but they are not the same. A heart attack is caused by a blockage that stops blood flow to part or parts of the heart, causing damage to the heart muscle. A person experiencing a heart attack may feel severe chest pain or other symptoms. They usually remain awake and can call for help.
With SCA, on the other hand, there are often no signs that something is about to happen – a victim suddenly loses consciousness and is not able to call for help. It can happen any time of day, no matter if a person is awake or asleep.
The most effective treatment to stop or correct certain life-threatening rapid heart rhythms is defibrillation, which is an electrical shock to get the heart back to a normal rhythm. If a bystander witnesses a victim experiencing SCA, they can use an automated external defibrillator (AED), if one is available.
For certain heart patients at risk of SCA, their physician may prescribe the ZOLL LifeVest wearable cardioverter defibrillator (WCD). Unlike an AED, LifeVest does not require assistance from a bystander or medical personnel. Except for a short daily shower or bath, LifeVest is worn 24/7 by patients at risk of SCA and is designed to automatically detect certain life-threatening rapid heart rhythms and provide a treatment shock to save the patient’s life.
How ZOLL LifeVest Can Help
While some defibrillator devices are implanted under the skin, the LifeVest WCD is worn directly against a patient’s skin. LifeVest allows patients to return to most normal daily activities with the peace of mind that they have protection from sudden cardiac arrest. Typically, LifeVest is worn temporarily, until a patient’s heart gets stronger or until a long-term treatment is decided.
LifeVest consists of a garment, an electrode belt, and a monitor. The electrodes can detect when the heart rate has gone into a life-threatening rapid heart rhythm. If that happens, the LifeVest WCD is designed to shock the patient’s heart back into a normal rhythm. The entire event, from detecting a life-threatening rapid heartbeat to automatically delivering a shock, usually takes less than a minute.