AUSTIN (KXAN) — Heart disease remains the number one killer in America, and if you go into cardiac arrest, your life could be measured in seconds if not minutes. More and more doctors are providing their patients with LifeVest, a defibrillator built into fabric that the patient wears over the skin, in case the worst happens.
LifeVest recently saved an Austin man’s life.
David Klaus says, “I remember walking and then just passing out.” Last November Klaus went into cardiac arrest. Doctors prescribed wearing the LifeVest until further work could be done on him. A month later, in December, while out with his dog, he was stricken again, literally the walking dead. But the LifeVest jolted his heart into restarting.
Two days later, in the hospital, it saved him again. He only realized it when he was revived, “I’ve never heard it go off, I’ve always been out but from what I understand it tells you to stay away from it–there’s going to be a shock.”
His doctors were pleased and relieved when they first heard the news. Dr. Vamsi Krishna, an interventionist cardiologist at the Seton Heart Institute, smiles, “It shows our medical science works. We were able to save this guy’s life. This device saves people 98 percent of the time on first shock.”
LifeVest senses the heart stoppage, releases protective gel on the skin, then can deliver up to three jolts if needed. It’s something new to many, even in the medical community. Dr. Krishna says, “It was FDA approved in 2001 but the uptake in the medical community usually takes five to 10 years to become prominent.”
LifeVest is not a long term solution, but a temporary insurance policy of sorts, and it only weighs a few pounds.
“There have been some adjustments getting used to it, like wearing this thing. You get used to it. This thing is my best friend, it goes everywhere with me except the shower,” says Klaus. Klaus has since had triple bypass surgery and is doing great. He’ll wear the LifeVest another three months during rehab and then see where he’s at. “I’m just amazed that this little box right here could bring my heart back,” he says with a smile.
LifeVest is covered by Medicare and major insurance providers. It is considered short term protection because often times heart patients need other rehab or procedures before their body is ready for a permanent fix, such as a bypass.