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Wearable defibrillator can save lives, Utah doctor says

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Posted at 4:56 PM, Feb 27, 2015
and last updated 2015-02-27 19:25:50-05

Statistically, baby boomers have the highest rate of heart attack of any age group. For those diagnosed with potentially fatal heart problems, the time periods before and after treatment are often the most dangerous.

That`s where the Zoll LifeVest comes into play, delivering a life-saving jolt of electricity to restore a normal heart rhythm.  Dr. Adam Elhaddi, an interventional cardiologist at Jordan Valley Medical Center, says the vest is indeed a life saver.

“Is there something that can protect patients without something that`s going to be permanently implantable and sure enough the Life Vest has come to light and it`s a wonderful tool,” Elhaddi said.

The vest is a wearable defibrillator that warns a patient when their heart rhythm becomes irregular and, if necessary, sends a shock to stabilize the heartbeat. Registered nurse Eric Brands has seen its benefits first hand.

“It buys them some time and it`s very useful for patients who are recovering from a heart attack. Even those patients who are about to undergo bypass surgery,” Brands said.

Many times, a heart patient doesn't realize when he or she is in trouble, but the LifeVest does. It sounds an alarm to let you know perhaps some trouble is imminent with your heart. When it sounds, you have 60 seconds before the shock.

Kearns resident Jorge Orozco, 49, is a patient of Elhaddi and recently had stints put in his arteries to restore blood flow following a heart attack. Concerned that he may be at risk of another attack, Elhaddi fitted Orozco with a LifeVest. Dr. Elhaddi said the vest has already saved Orozco’s life.

“It really is, there`s some controversy to it. No doubt about it, there`s no studies on it, technically, but the logic and the science is there and I’ve seen it firsthand,” Elhaddi said.

While sleeping, Orozco’s heart went into a dangerously fast rhythm. The LifeVest sensed the trouble, and sounded its alarm, waking Orozco in time to get help.

Most people who use the LifeVest are waiting for a more permanent implanted pacemaker to keep their hearts beating efficiently. Orozco now has his pacemaker and is very happy the LifeVest was there when he needed it.

“I didn't know, if he didn't tell me. I didn`t know about it, okay. I think it, that it was the best decision I take in my life,” Orozco said.