Sudden cardiac arrest can be fatal if not treated immediately, so many people who are determined to be at a higher risk of experiencing cardiac arrest may be asked to use a wearable defibrillator, like Zoll LifeVest.

Common Conditions That Cause Sudden Cardiac Arrest

Cardiac arrest is defined as an irregular heartbeat caused by an electrical malfunction within the heart that disrupts the heart’s ability to pump blood. This event deprives the brain and other organs of the blood flow they need to function. Death can occur within minutes of experiencing cardiac arrest.

Although cardiac arrest can be preceded by certain symptoms, the American Heart Association reports that many people never experience warning signs of cardiac arrest. However, some medical conditions are identified as high-risk conditions where cardiac arrest may occur.

The most common conditions include:

  • Heart disease
  • History of heart attacks
  • Weak heart muscles
  • Viral infection in the heart
  • High blood pressure
  • Diabetes
  • High cholesterol

Certain lifestyle factors can also increase your chances of experiencing sudden cardiac arrest, such as excess weight, smoking and alcohol abuse.  Your physician can help you assess your medical history and any applicable lifestyle factors to determine what your risk of experiencing sudden cardiac arrest may be.

Understanding How Zoll LifeVests Work

A defibrillator is a device that uses an electrical current to stimulate the heart muscle and restore its natural rhythm.

A Zoll LifeVest is a wearable defibrillator that consists of three separate pieces:

  • Halter. This garment is worn against the skin and underneath regular clothing.
  • Electrode belt. Nodes that can detect changes in heart rhythms connect the halter garment to the monitor.
  • Monitor. A battery-operated monitor records a person’s heart rate and triggers the LifeVest’s defibrillator mechanism when it detects dangerous irregularities.

The design of the Zoll LifeVest allows it to be worn discreetly, with only the monitor visible outside of the clothing. The monitor can be worn over the shoulder or around the waist. When the Zoll LifeVest detects sudden cardiac death, it releases a blue gel that acts as a conduit for the defibrillator shock and helps to protect the skin from an electrical burn.

The device is not water-resistant and should be removed before bathing or showering.

Medicare Coverage for Zoll LifeVest

Medicare recipients who are advised to use a Zoll LifeVest may need to satisfy several requirements for Medicare coverage of this product. This may include a recommendation that comes from a cardiologist rather than their primary care physician in addition to clear documentation that there is a medical necessity from a qualifying medical condition.

Medicare may only cover a wearable defibrillator like Zoll LifeVest for temporary use while a recipient waits for an implantable device. During their coverage period with the Zoll LifeVest, approved rental terms typically include coverage for any related equipment, delivery, repair, parts and supplies for the device. Temporary coverage may be limited to a certain number of months and recipients may be required to undergo monthly reviews for continued eligibility.

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