DuBois, Clearfield County, Pa. - More than 300,000 Americans go into cardiac arrest every year. Their heart just stops pumping blood and their body starts to shut down. That happened earlier this year to a woman from the DuBois area. She could have died within minutes, but a special piece of clothing saved her life.
Thirty-eight-year-old Jessica Lindemuth regularly sees her cardiologist, nowadays, but the mother of 3 didn't worry about heart problems, until she went to the ER this winter, with what she thought was pneumonia.
"They told me I was in congestive heart failure and that they didn't know quite what was wrong with it yet," she says.
Tests showed she had cardiomyopathy, a disease of the heart muscle, that reduces its ability to pump blood.
Dr. Sterling Reese, DuBois Regional Cardiology Associates says, "She had a significant weakness of her heart pumping muscle and that weakness leads to the unfortunate potential for having life threatening heart rhythm disturbances."
Doctors prescribed medication to try to help Jessica's heart beat normally, but she was still at a higher risk of sudden cardiac death.
So they also gave her a LifeVest, a wearable defibrillator, that detects an irregular heart beat and responds with a shock to correct it...
Jessica says, "I wore it faithful, thank God, but at first I was like, this is such an inconvenience ....but it's not."
She was among the one to 5 percent of people who get a shock from their LifeVest. It happened at her work place. "I was sitting eating lunch and I remember feeling like a hot feeling and that's all I remember and when I woke up, I was on the floor, and they had already called the ambulance. They said I was out for like 8 minutes," she says.
Dr. Reese says It was very serious, as serious as it gets." And he adds that, if she hadn't been wearing the LifeVest, "Jessica would probably not be here, she probably would have died."
Jessica now has a small defibrillator implanted in her chest to monitor her heart and shock it back into rhythm. Someday she may need a heart transplant. The experience has changed her outlook.. "You can't take anything for granted. You just never know," she says.
The LifeVest is prescribed for patients who recently had a diagnosis of heart failure, or a heart attack, and are at risk for sudden cardiac arrest.