Judith Blades, age 75, was making a routine stop into Dollar General
when she suddenly collapsed at the cash register. She was experiencing sudden cardiac arrest (SCA
). SCA claims the lives of 350,000 Americans each year because she was prescribed the LifeVest wearable defibrillator
Just days prior, Blades was having difficulty breathing and was admitted to the hospital. After a few tests, her cardiologist, Dr. Rajeev Fernando
of UnityPoint Clinic – Cardiology
diagnosed her with heart failure. She learned her heart’s pumping function, known as “ejection fraction,” was severely weakened to less than 30 percent, where a normal “ejection fraction” is 55-70 percent.
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Dr. Fernando recognized that Blade’s reduced heart function put her at risk for SCA, which occurs when the heart unexpectedly develops a rapid life-threatening rhythm. Often, the heart beats so fast that it quivers and cannot effectively pump blood to the body and brain, causing victims to pass out immediately. Without treatment, death can occur in minutes.
Wanting to ensure Blades was protected outside of the hospital, Dr. Fernando prescribed the LifeVest wearable defibrillator and instructed she wear it under her clothes 24/7 so that it could monitor her heart around the clock. Blades, a wife, mother of three, grandmother of four and great-grandmother, found out just one day earlier that she had another great-grandchild on the way. A woman of faith, she took comfort in God and knowing she was protected by LifeVest.
“By wearing the LifeVest, we can monitor the patient continuously for lethal heart rhythm and deliver shock treatment to restore the heart to normal rhythm. This is especially helpful in patients with weak hearts when doctors are optimizing medications to strengthen their heart muscle,” says Dr. Fernando.
Later that week, while stopping into Dollar General for tea, Blades suddenly lost consciousness at the check-out counter. Her husband waited in the car, unaware of what was happening. Within one minute, her LifeVest detected the dangerous heart rhythm and delivered a treatment shock that restored her heart’s normal rhythm and saved Blade’s life. She regained consciousness immediately after the treatment shock and a store manager had already called 911. She was taken to the hospital by ambulance and later received an implantable defibrillator for long-term protection.
Blades is thankful for Dr. Fernando and LifeVest and has a renewed sense of purpose for her life. “God kept me here for a reason,” says Judith. “Now, I’m just waiting to see what that reason is.”
With the support of her husband, Blades is recovering well and looking forward to summer cookouts with her family and welcoming her fifth grandchild later this year.
The LifeVest wearable defibrillator is worn by patients at risk of sudden cardiac arrest. Unlike an ICD, the LifeVest is worn outside the body rather than implanted in the chest. It requires no bystander intervention. The LifeVest continuously monitors the patient’s heart and, if a life-threatening heart rhythm is detected, the device delivers a treatment shock to restore normal heart rhythm. The device alerts the patient prior to delivering a treatment shock, and thus allows a conscious patient to delay treatment.
LifeVest is prescribed for a wide range of patients, including those who recently suffered a heart attack or have a new diagnosis of heart failure.