Wearable Defibrillator

What is a Wearable Defibrillator

Wearable defibrillator is a device that delivers an electric shock to your heart if needed. It senses your heartbeats and can send a shock to your heart if it stops beating (sudden cardiac arrest).

Sudden cardiac arrest causes you to lose consciousness. An electrical shock can often restore your normal heartbeat.There are two parts of a wearable defibrillator:

  • A lightweight vest that you wear under your clothes. The vest is held in place with shoulder straps and straps that go around your abdomen. Inside the vest are electrodes that sense your heartbeats.
  • A battery-powered unit that you wear on a belt around your waist. It looks similar to a fanny pack. You can also wear it by placing the strap over your shoulder. The unit:
    • Records your heartbeats.
    • Is attached to the vest by wires.
    • Is powered by a battery that lasts about 24 hours. You will have an extra battery. You will learn when and how to recharge the batteries.

You will take a course to learn how to wear and use the vest. You will also have an instruction manual. This manual will be handy whenever you travel.This document is not intended to be a substitute for training and use of the instruction manual.

Why do I need a wearable defibrillator?

You may need to wear a defibrillator if you have an abnormal heart rhythm (arrhythmia) that may lead to sudden cardiac arrest. This could be life-threatening if you do not receive a shock to restart your heart.Two types of arrhythmia can lead to sudden cardiac arrest:

  • Ventricular tachycardia. In this type, the bottom chambers of the heart beat very quickly.
  • Ventricular fibrillation. In this type, the bottom chambers of the heart beat very irregularly and weakly.

Wearing this vest is usually a temporary treatment to prevent sudden cardiac arrest. If you continue to be at risk for sudden cardiac arrest, you may need a more permanent defibrillator that is surgically placed under your skin (implanted).

What are the risks?

Generally, a wearable defibrillator is safe and can prevent serious medical problems or death. However, it does come with risks, such as:

  • Receiving a shock when it is not needed. This risk is small.
  • You may have itching or a skin rash around the electrodes.

How does a wearable defibrillator work?

If you are in danger, your vest will start to vibrate. It will send you an alarm that you can hear and instructions that you can hear or read on the display area of the unit. A verbal alarm will instruct you to sit or lie down. This prevents injury from a fall if you become dizzy or lose consciousness.

  • If you are awake (conscious), you have not had cardiac arrest. You can turn off the alarms by pressing two buttons on the vest at the same time. When you turn off the alarms, your unit will tell you to either:
    • Call emergency services (911 in the U.S.) if you still have an arrhythmia.
    • Call your health care provider if your arrhythmia has stopped.
  • If you have cardiac arrest and you lose consciousness, you will not be able to turn off the alarms. Your unit will:
    • Send up to five electrical shocks to restart your heart.
    • Sound a verbal alarm to let others know that a shock is coming, warn them not to touch you, and instruct them to call emergency services.
  • If you lose consciousness and are given shocks by the device, you or someone else should always call emergency services.

How to wear a defibrillator vest

Wear your vest as told by your health care provider. You will most likely have to wear it all day and night, even while you sleep.

You may take off your vest to take a shower or bath. You may also take off the vest to clean it. When you take off your vest, have someone available to call emergency services in case you have sudden cardiac arrest.

Electric interference from devices such as cell phones or security gates should not affect your vest functions.

What are the instructions to be followed at home?

  • Do not wear anything under the vest. The electrodes in the vest need to have contact with your skin.
  • Do not get the vest wet.
  • Do not drop the vest.
  • Keep the vest out of direct sunlight.
  • Understand the instructions in your manual for cleaning your vest. Remove the electrodes from the vest before cleaning it.
  • When you take off your vest, have someone available in case you need to call emergency services.

Contact a health care provider if you :

  • Do not understand how or when to use the vest.
  • Have questions about how and when to use the vest.
  • Your alarm goes off and the display on your unit says to call your health care provider.
  • The vest becomes uncomfortable.
  • You have decided not to wear the vest.
  • You get a shock from the vest without the alarm going off.
  • Your vest becomes damaged or loose.

Get help right away if:

  • You have sudden cardiac arrest that triggers your vest to restart your heart.
  • Your alarm goes off and the monitor says to call emergency services, even if you have not had sudden cardiac arrest.

Take Home points

  • A wearable defibrillator is a device that delivers an electric shock to your heart if needed.
  • You will take a course to learn how to wear and use the vest. Keep your instruction manual handy, and take it with you whenever you travel.
  • Do not wear anything under the vest. The electrodes in the vest need to have contact with your skin.
  • Get help right away if your alarm goes off and the monitor says to call emergency services, even if you have not had sudden cardiac arrest.
You cannot copy content of this page