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Defibrillator vest helps patients avoid sudden cardiac arrest

May 29, 2013 12:00:00 AM PDT
Experts estimate about 30 percent of sudden cardiac deaths happen when a person is asleep. But now a new wearable device is saving lives for some heart patients.

Barbara Campbell has a history of heart problems. She was shocked awake one night when her heart went into arrhythmia by a LifeVest.

Doctor John McPherson prescribed it to her after putting a stent in her heart.

"The LifeVest acts as a type of insurance policy," said McPherson.

The device's sensors keep track of a patient's heart rate and, if needed, pads help restart it by sending strong electrical charges through the body.

"Seventy-five-percent as strong as the paddles that we would use in the hospital," said McPherson.

Campbell has returned to a normal life.

The LifeVest is designed to be worn around the clock. Doctors say the only downside is that the vest may shock patients when it's not needed. But there are safety features in place to help prevent that.