Shocking! Doc Prescribes Vest, Patient Saved

krishna_and_vest250sizeDr. Vamsi Krishna, Seton Heart Institute interventionist cardiologist, recently prescribed something different to one of his patients – a vest, equipped with a defibrillator in case he went into cardiac arrest.

It worked. It saved the patient’s life. Twice.

KXAN-TV recently did a story on the patient and the specialist. Here is modified version of the print story KXAN posted.

Heart disease remains the No. 1 killer in America, and if you go into cardiac arrest, the rest of your life could be measured in seconds, if not minutes. More and more, doctors are providing their patients with LifeVest, which has a defibrillator built into fabric that the patient wears on the skin, in case the worst happens.

The worst recently happened to an Austin man.

“I remember walking and then just passing out,” David Klaus said.

Last November, Klaus went into cardiac arrest. Dr. Vamsi Krishna, interventionist cardiologist at Seton Heart Institute, prescribed wearing the LifeVest until he was physically ready for further medical treatment.

Just a month later, in December while out walking his dog near his home, he was stricken again – and the LifeVest jolted his heart into restarting.

His wife, who was walking their other dog with him, called an ambulance and Klaus was rushed to the hospital.

Two days later, while still in the hospital, it saved him again. He was lying in his hospital bed when he again went into cardiac arrest.

He only realized it when he was revived.

david_and_dave400size“I’ve never heard it go off,” he said. “I’ve always been out (unconscious), but from what I understand it tells you to stay away from it – there’s going to be a shock.”

Dr. Krishna was pleased and relieved when he heard the news about the vest saving Klaus’ life – twice.

“It shows our medical science works,” he said. “We were able to save this guy’s life. This device saves people 98 percent of the time on first shock.”

LifeVest, which weighs just a few pounds, senses the heart stoppage, releases protective gel on the skin, then can deliver multiple jolts, if needed. It’s something new to many, even in the medical community.

“It was FDA approved in 2001, but uptake in the medical community usually takes five to 10 years to become prominent,” Krishna said.

LifeVest is not a long-term solution, but a temporary insurance policy of sorts until a patient’s heart recovers or if a patient is physically ready for medical treatment, such as a bypass operation or an implantable defibrillator. LifeVest is covered by Medicare and many major insurance providers.

“There have been some adjustments getting used to it,” Klaus said. “This thing is my best friend, it goes everywhere with me except the shower.”

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.

And he’s most grateful it saved his life twice last November. That allowed him to celebrate the holidays with his family. It also meant he got to celebrate his 60th birthday in January.