Patient Frequently Asked Questions about LifeVest | ZOLL LifeVest

FAQs

Q: What is the LifeVest wearable cardioverter defibrillator (WCD)?

A: The LifeVest® wearable cardioverter defibrillator (WCD) is worn by patients at risk of sudden cardiac death (SCD). A defibrillator is a device that is used to control dangerous heart rhythms by applying an electrical shock to the heart. While some defibrillator devices are implanted under the skin, LifeVest is a wearable defibrillator and is worn directly against the patient’s skin. LifeVest provides a constant safeguard against SCD. It protects you even when you are alone.

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Q: What is sudden cardiac death?

A: The heart’s electrical system controls the heartbeat. 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, you can suddenly pass out. This is sudden cardiac arrest (SCA). It occurs without warning. Without treatment, death occurs in minutes. This is sudden cardiac death (SCD).

LifeVest provides a constant safeguard against SCD. If you have a life-threatening heart rhythm while wearing the LifeVest WCD, it will automatically deliver a shock to save your life. Visit the What is Sudden Cardiac Death? page to learn more.

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Q: Why do I need the LifeVest WCD?

A: Your doctor believes that your current condition puts you at risk for developing a life-threatening heart rhythm, which could cause you to become unconscious and unable to call for help. Your doctor prescribed LifeVest to protect you from sudden cardiac death so that you can continue to be there for your family. The risk of SCD is high for people who have heart disease. 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
  • Other risk factors for SCD include high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity, smoking, and high cholesterol.

No matter your condition, it is important to remember that the LifeVest WCD is a constant safeguard against SCD. With LifeVest, you and your loved ones should have peace of mind knowing that you will be protected.7

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Q: How does LifeVest work?

A: LifeVest consists of a garment, an electrode belt, and a monitor. When you wear the LifeVest WCD directly against your skin, the electrodes can detect when the heart rate has gone into a dangerous rhythm. If that happens, the LifeVest WCD will shock your heart back into a normal rhythm. The entire event, from detecting a life-threatening heartbeat to automatically delivering a shock, takes less than a minute. Visit the How Does LifeVest Work? page to learn more and view pictures of the LifeVest WCD.

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Q: Can the LifeVest WCD protect me when I’m alone?

A: LifeVest treats you automatically so it does not require the assistance of another person or emergency personnel for it to work. If your heart goes into a dangerous rhythm, the LifeVest WCD will shock your heart back into a normal rhythm.

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Q: What do the alerts mean?

A: One of the key features of LifeVest is the series of alerts and voice prompts that keep you informed about what the device is doing. These alerts let you know that LifeVest is working to protect you.

Loud or high vibration environments can make it difficult for you to hear an alert, so if you find yourself in these types of environments or situations, you should be extra attentive to the LifeVest WCD to ensure that you are able to respond to any alerts. For example, riding a motorcycle or using some lawn mowers may cause vibration and make it difficult for you to hear an alert, which may result in an inappropriate treatment. To learn more, visit the Living with LifeVest page.

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Q: How long will I wear the LifeVest WCD?

A: The length of time you need to wear the LifeVest WCD is specific to your condition and should be discussed with your doctor. LifeVest is intended to be worn while you are at high risk of sudden cardiac death. Most patients will wear the device temporarily, until their heart gets stronger or until a long-term treatment is decided.

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Q: When can I take off the LifeVest WCD?

A: It is critical that you wear LifeVest at all times – even while you sleep. The only time you should remove your LifeVest WCD is while taking a short shower or bath. This should only be done when someone is home with you, if possible.

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Q: Will I have a normal lifestyle while I’m wearing LifeVest?

A: LifeVest allows you to return to your normal daily activities with the peace of mind that you are protected from sudden cardiac death. With the LifeVest WCD, you can continue to do the things you enjoy, like spending time with family and friends, without worrying about your risk of SCD. Wear the LifeVest WCD when you go to a restaurant, to your place of worship, when doing chores around the house, even to your next doctor’s appointment.

LifeVest is fit to your body and is worn under your normal clothes. Other than the monitor, which is worn in a holster around the waist or on a shoulder strap, most people will not know that you are wearing the LifeVest WCD.

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Q: What should I do if there is BlueTM gel on me?

A: LifeVest releases BlueTM gel on your chest and back prior to delivering a treatment. This usually happens when a patient is unconscious, so you will likely not remember receiving a treatment. If you have BlueTM gel on your skin or clothing, you should call your doctor immediately to discuss next steps.

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Q: What should I do if I receive a treatment from LifeVest?

A: If you are treated by LifeVest, you should call your doctor to discuss next steps. If your doctor tells you to continue to wear the LifeVest WCD, you should call ZOLL to let us know that you were treated and plan to continue to wear the LifeVest WCD. You should also check the LifeVest display for any messages and take action accordingly.

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Q: Can I ride my motorcycle or use my lawn mower or tractor while wearing LifeVest?

A: Loud or high vibration environments can make it difficult for you to hear an alert, so if you find yourself in these types of environments or situations, you should be extra attentive to the LifeVest WCD to ensure that you are able to respond to any alerts. For example, riding a motorcycle or using some lawn mowers may cause vibration and make it difficult for you to hear an alert, which may result in an inappropriate treatment.

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Q: How do I care for the LifeVest WCD?

A: It is important to care for your LifeVest WCD so that it is ready to protect you if you need it. Follow these steps to ensure you are taking good care of your LifeVest WCD on a daily basis:

  1. 1. Change your battery – and charge the second battery – every day.
  2. 2. Wash your LifeVest WCD garment every 1-2 days.
    • DO NOT use chlorine bleach or bleach alternatives, fabric softeners, anti-static sprays, or any detergent that contain these additives.
    • DO NOT wash the electrode belt or monitor.
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    Q: How many patients are wearing the LifeVest WCD?

    A: On any given day, tens of thousands of patients around the world are protected from sudden cardiac death by wearing the LifeVest WCD.

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    Q: Is the LifeVest WCD covered by insurance?

    A: LifeVest is covered by most health plans in the United States, including commercial, state, and federal plans. You should contact your medical insurance provider with any questions about your specific coverage. LifeVest patient support is also available to answer your questions. Call ZOLL at 1-800-543-3267 for assistance.

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    Q: How do I return my LifeVest WCD to ZOLL?

    A: Once your doctor has determined that you no longer need to wear LifeVest, you should use the return shipping box that was provided to properly pack your device for shipment back to ZOLL. If you have lost your return shipping box, packing instructions or return shipping label, call ZOLL at 1-800-543-3267 for assistance.

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    Q: Who do I call for help?

    A: For your convenience, ZOLL offers 24-hour technical support and can be reached at 1-800-543-3267. The LifeVest team is here to answer your questions and provide assistance with your needs.

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7 Whiting J, Simon M. Health and lifestyle benefits resulting from wearable cardioverter-defibrillator use. The Journal of Innovations in Cardiac Rhythm Management 2012;1–2.