Lisa Sutherland's Story
When Lisa Sutherland came to the hospital for an unrelated procedure, she never expected that doctors would tell her she had heart failure. Having no history of cardiac issues, the clinical diagnosis of dilated cardiomyopathy was shocking. Looking back, Lisa remembers feeling short of breath occasionally, but she never thought it was related to her heart.
Like many patients newly diagnosed with the condition, Lisa felt like she was “thrown into” heart failure. “It was a life changing moment for me. I never had such a serious health issue,” she recalls, “but I had to go forward and work hard at getting stronger.”
Going forward for Lisa meant she would need a wearable defibrillator. Lisa’s weakened heart put her at risk for sudden cardiac death (SCD). SCD is caused by life-threatening arrhythmias which are fatal if not treated within minutes with a timely defibrillation shock. Doctors recommended that Lisa wear the LifeVest wearable defibrillator 24 hours a day, taking it off only to shower. The LifeVest would continuously monitor her heart, and if it detected a life-threatening heart rhythm, the device would deliver a treatment shock that could save her life.
“It doesn’t matter if you are 10 or 100, your health comes first.” Lisa took her diagnosis seriously and made the choice to go home with the LifeVest. “I had a lot of life left to live,” she commented, “I felt like it was my security blanket, knowing that if something did happen, the LifeVest was there to protect me.”
Eight days later, Lisa was sitting at her kitchen counter looking through holiday cards with her mother and son. That’s the last thing she remembers, as she experienced a potentially-fatal arrhythmia, abruptly losing consciousness and collapsing to the floor. “It was a sudden head rush,” Lisa explained, “I would never have had time to contact anybody.” As her family stood by, Lisa’s LifeVest detected the life-threatening arrhythmia and delivered a treatment shock that restored her normal heart rhythm. She regained consciousness shortly afterwards to learn what happened. In Lisa’s words, “The LifeVest saved my life.”
Her doctor recommended it, but Lisa knows she played a role in her recovery by choosing to wear the LifeVest each day. “It sometimes feels like the end of the road when you have heart failure, but there are things you have to do to help yourself get better. Wearing the LifeVest is one of them. It’s going to be there to protect you when you need it,” she commented. “People have to take the opportunities they have. You can continue to live life.”
That’s exactly what Lisa will do: continue to live life. Just weeks before her diagnosis of heart failure, Lisa’s first granddaughter was born. There’s so much to look forward to and Lisa reports that she’s getting stronger and stronger every day. Since Lisa’s treatment with the LifeVest, doctors have told her that she can expect to live a normal life. “It’s an awesome feeling. It has opened my eyes to what’s really important – my family and friends and being able to help others,” Lisa says, “Sometimes, you get a second chance.”