Study: LifeVest Safe, Keeps Heart in Check

Aug. 28, 2014

A vest with a wearable cardioverter defibrillator that continuously monitors heart rhythms is safe, useful, and helps some patients avoid having a defibrillator device implanted in their chest when it might not be necessary, a new study shows.vest with external cardiac defibrillator

Valentina Kutyifa, M.D., Ph.D., research assistant professor of Cardiology, and Arthur J. Moss, M.D., the Bradford C. Berk MD, PhD Professor of Medicine, who work at the UR’s Heart Research Follow-up Program, led a study of nearly 2,000 patients. Data from the team’s study was selected to be presented August 30 at the European Society of Cardiology meeting in Barcelona.

This was the first, large prospective registry of patients at high risk for sudden cardiac death who wore the LifeVest wearable defibrillator. The vast majority, 87 percent, had acquired heart disease rather than congenital or inherited disease.  Patients wore the LifeVest for approximately 90 days.

The specially designed LifeVest contains an external defibrillator that delivers a shock to restore an orderly heartbeat. Wearing the vest gives a patient’s physician time to assess long-term arrhythmic risk and make appropriate plans, which helps some people avoid having an implantable defibrillator device.

Researchers hypothesized the LifeVest wearable defibrillator could be used to assess risk immediately after a heart attack, following coronary revascularization, and in patients with newly diagnosed heart disease. At the end of three months, 41 percent of the 2,000 patients needed an implanted defibrillator, the study showed. Most others showed significant improvement. The study also demonstrated a low rate of inappropriate shocks.

The WEARIT-II Registry was designed to provide prospective data for research on the safety and efficacy of the vest. The next step is to study 1,000 patients who have heart failure. They will be prescribed the LifeVest and followed for two years as part of the WEARIT-III Registry. Funding was provided by Zoll Medical Corporation, maker of the LifeVest.