A wearable defibrillator can save the life of a cardiac patient waiting to receive an implantable device. Yet, the ZOLL LifeVest, the only such device currently available on the market, is still kind of bulky, making it difficult to wear, especially in bed. A team of biomedical engineering students at Johns Hopkins have put in the effort to slim down the wearable defibrillator, making it more comfortable and easier to wear for extended periods. They hope that with a more discreet and comfortable design, patients prescribed wearable defibrillators will be more compliant with putting them on at all times.
The students surveyed patients who wore the currently available defib garment and electrophysiologists that are experienced in setting it up. The new defirillator, instead of looking like an athletic chest strap, is in the form of a vest that’s much more intuitive to put on. The fabric is both breathable while being waterproof, both to help protect the electronics and to make it easier to clean the vest. All the active electronic components are distributed inside the pockets along the vest, and the control box has been slimmed down to be able to be worn on the patient’s wrist like a watch. The control box can be used to monitor the system, as well as to cancel an impending shock if the patient believes the system detected a fake arrhythmia signal.