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SouthernSweets, June 10,  2016  11:02am EST

Zoll Lifevest - Any other sufferers here?

I had 3 LAD Stents on April 28, 2016 after going to the ER with a crick in my neck.  Apparently my heart attack had begun two days prior. Dr. said he was baffled that I am still living, I never lost consciousness and actually worked and drove home on both those days.  My ejection fracture is 20-25% so I left the hospital with a Zoll lifevest, which I hate beyond measure.  Anyone else here have to wear one?  I am having my next echo on July 8 to see if I have to have an implanted hoping I don't, but not holding my breath!  Would love to hear from someone in the same situation.  I am a 50 yo female with no prior history of heart disease, hpb or cholesterol problems but was undiagnosed diabetic.
  • ModeratorJeff
    ModeratorJeff , June 11,  2016  3:50am EST
    SouthernSweets, I know it's completely unreal once you come out the other end of a heart attack. Mine was not exactly like yours but it might have been had I not been so in touch with my body that morning of early April 2015. I ended up with very mild symptoms and actually tried to dismiss it as I was headed out to a client meeting. For me it was a combination of mild sensations that made me think that I might be better off in ER that morning. The thing to remember is that you are alive right now. I know that sounds just about as inspiring as oatmeal but here's the thing, you have a chance to take time as it comes right now. What will that look like? Regardless of how your Dr's think it's best to treat you ... your body will begin to heal. It's going to take time and things will be different but with time comes the process of acceptance. Once you get there, and it happened for me over the course of a 14 month period frustratingly slow, you will be better able to embrace that life and settle into it and be happy. I have a friend with a defib device he's had for many years due to a valve issue. He does not even notice it anymore. His experience with it has been a good one. As far as ejection fracture, that can change for the good over time. Sometimes dramatically. Your Dr's will know what to expect as they monitor your recovery process. And even then, there may be things your body does to surprise everyone around you. I like to tell myself that just because we had a heart attack does not mean that we are guaranteed to have another one. Yeah, our chances are higher... but nothing is written in stone. Best of luck to you and trust your Dr's, take your time, and enjoy some parts of your days... every day. ​Jeff
  • Aud618
    Aud618, June 12,  2016  2:39pm EST
    My fiancée is going to be getting a life vest tomorrow before he goes home. What is it that you do not like?
  • SouthernSweets
    SouthernSweets, June 13,  2016  4:53am EST
    It is very uncomfortable.  As a woman, you have to wear a bra over it, which causes a couple of the sensors to dig into my skin.  I have an outline of 2 that does not go away, even after taking it off.  Would it be too much trouble for Zoll to had cups for a woman?
  • supermuffin82
    supermuffin82, June 13,  2016  1:27pm EST
    I had a Zoll lifevest for 4 months last summer. It was miserable, eventually I stopped wearing it and waited for my icd to be approved. The life vest made me feel more secure but it's very uncomfortable and warm. Beat of luck to you!
  • jgoodma1
    jgoodma1, June 23,  2016  6:56am EST
    SouthernSweets, I've been wearing a Zoll Lifevest since 04/10/16  (EF 20% - 25%).  My echo 6 weeks after my MI showed my EF had improved to 30% - 35%. My beta blocker dosage has been upped in an effort to push my EF consistently over the 35% threshold in hopes of possibly avoiding an ICD.  I likely will have the Zoll Lifevest at least until the end of July, when I'll have another echo to see if I have indeed dodged the need for the ICD.   I wear the Lifevest religiously 24/7 except when I am taking a shower.  Since I am a man, I do not have the issues that a woman wearing a bra will have, so I can't address those specific comfort issues. But on the day I received it, I was immediately concerned about all the  paraphernalia that is attached to the vest that I would be leaning against when sitting or sleeping.  The Zoll technician said I would quickly get used to it....and in my case, she was right.  I just don't focus on it being there, and that seems to help.  There is nothing sharp poking me....even with the big shock pads.  When I put it on, I do spend some time getting the round sensor disks positioned in the middle of the elastic fabric so they are stable and don't tip. I also played around with the length of the shoulder straps so my vest sits a little lower on my chest and back and does not ride up.  I would think that possibly lowering the vest on your body a little bit might help a woman to be a bit more comfortable.   Being about 10 weeks out from my heart attack, I find that my rate of recovery has slowed. Recovery in the first month was dramatic and upped my spirits.  Now things have slowed down a bit, and I have good days and bad days in the way I physically feel.  Based on the feedback I get from my cardiologist and rehab nurses, I am slowly building stamina and my numbers look good. I have had zero angina and no irregularities in my heartbeat (per Zoll). But I do experience some of the published side effects of my meds, particularly shortness of breath; and it can be very distracting.  The reason I bring this up is that the way I am experiencing and being bothered by the side effects of my meds might be similar to the way you are experiencing and being bothered your Lifevest.  I have not yet learned how to consistently reduce the shortness-of-breath sensation.  If anything, when I experience it, I start hyperventilating....almost like a panic attack...and I end up amplifying the sensation.  There are times at night that I have to take an anti-anxiety medication that my doctor prescribed because the shortness of breath sensation on bad days prevents me from sleeping. And the medication works. I might have to take it 1-2 times per week. It takes my mind off my breathing and I end up breathing better.  It also allows me to sleep. So, I'm wondering if this might be something to talk with your doctor about.  In my case, the Lifevest just doesn't bug me, but my meds do.  If the Lifevest has become very distracting to you, the feeling might feed upon itself, where you can't get it out of your mind.  Maybe some sort of anti-anxiety drug could help you tolerate it because it is very important for you to keep wearing it.  Also, one other thing that has helped me is I bought a  Brookstone 4-in-1 Bed Wedge Pillow, which elevates me about 30 degrees in bed.  I put a pillow at the top of the wedge too.  This has also reduced the pressure my back puts on the Lifevest equipment strapped to my back and I practically don't notice it when I'm in bed.   Best of luck. Jim
  • TxGal
    TxGal, July 11,  2016  5:07pm EST
    My husband wore a Zoll lifevest.  He is not a complainer, but this vest definitely was a thorn in his side. LOL.  Those who have worn them will understand the pun there.  He did eventually have a defibrillator implanted after wearing the vest for three months. ​One rather sad story we heard from a gentleman and wife was about her mom.  Her mom really hated wearing the vest.  They were doing some errands about an hour away from home.  It was a rather warm day, and her mom chose not to wear the vest.  Unfortunately, she went into cardiac arrest and didn't make it. ​I was so glad even though my husband truly hated wearing the vest, he trudged through until he had his defibrillator implanted.
  • kylieko
    kylieko, December 4,  2016  12:14pm EST
    Hi! I'm a journalism student at Boston University writing a story about the Zoll LifeVest for my data journalism class. If anyone who has had a negative (or positive) experience with the LifeVest would be willing to share more about their experience with me via email or phone, I would really appreciate it. You can reply to this thread or message me through the private message on this site if you're interested.
  • mmcmillan44
    mmcmillan44, December 27,  2016  3:58pm EST
    I hope your expereince with the vest is better than mine has been this year. Here is a basic review of my experience with the vest. My experience with Zoll and the Zoll Lifevest has been very poor.   Pros: It might? save your life  List of Cons:  Con: When the company representative firsts fits you with the device there is no mention that it is over $36,000 a year cost that the patient may be responsible for.  Con: Poor customer service. When requesting information on airline travel with the lifevest I had to make multiple calls. I would be told they were emailing information and then never received promised info forcing me to call back.  Con: Poor customer service. When I spoke to the billing department that is supposed to answer billing and insurance information the Zoll representative refused to provide me with any billing information, costs etc. I was told that if I wanted any information to contact my insurance company. What kind of company refuses to tell a customer How Much?  Con: Very expensive. Insurance coverage on device is limited and cost to the insurance company is over $3000 a month . My out of pocket on the vest after 3 months is over $1800 YTD and next month the out of pocket would be the full $3000+ for a single month. Claims made by Zoll on insurance coverage for the device may not be true. I recommend patients check with their insurance carrier for specific coverage. Con: Zoll appears to be making false claims to doctors. Zoll representatives are telling doctors that Zoll is working with patients and offering payment plans to those in financial need. That is not true. Due to money issues and new insurance I can not afford the Zoll vest in 2017. I have no past due amount and no late payments. When I called and had to discuss returning the vest because of financial concerns all the Zoll representative does is instruct you on returning the equipment. There is no offer of assistance or payment plan.  Con: Causes significant skin irritation and sores if used for more than a month or two. I began to develop open sores where the sensors are in contact with the skin. Similar to bedsores and inevitable when you have something pressing against the skin 24 hours a day.  Con: False alarms - I have to unplug the unit wait 15 seconds and plug it back in. It then works OK for a while. Constant fear that it may go off inadvertently. The alarm is loud, but not loud enough in all circumstances. I sometimes work in a loud environment and have had the alarm go off and not hear it. There is a real danger the unit can discharge when there is no heart issue. If it goes off at the incorrect time it can stop a beating heart. As noted in a 2014 letter to Zoll from the FDA " approximately half of all treatments delivered to patients are inappropriate shocks"  For those with very low EF numbers it may be worth the cost and pain. It also may be the only way a hospital will release you after being diagnosed with a heart medical issue. However at over $3000 a month, a billing department that will not discuss billing, questionable statements on insurance coverage for the device, Zoll making false claims to doctors about assisting patients in financial need, and very poor customer service I cannot recommend this device or company. Company appears to only be concerned about $$$$ and not patients.   I had to return mine because I cannot afford $$$$$ month after month. I would have been at $5000 out of pocket after only 4 months if I had not returned the equipment.
  • LeRoy Main Jr.
    LeRoy Main Jr., January 15,  2017  10:41am EST
    I had to wear one from May 19 2016 to Aug 24,2016 when I had my defibrillator implanted. Mine was a Zoll Life Vest.  It was the one of the worst things I had to do. How did I overcome it ?  I accepted the fact that if I needed it it would be on. I could not sleep with this on , tangled in cord , sweating , not able to curl up next to my wife. Just miserable.  Most of all I was on alert for the alarm to go off. Which it did regularly , it was sencing " artifact noise "  I'm not sure anyone will ever feel comfortable with it on.  However the security it brought me was why I just accepted it and wore it.  Let me be clear I was never more excited to send something back.  I am sorry for those of you who have had support problems and financial problems.  The Zoll company gave me incredable support even thou they have no clue about there vest ( My Opinion ). I think there techs need more knowledge, more training, but they tried.  The finance department Helped me 100%., definitely took more than one call but they did help me.
  • Jdeall1964
    Jdeall1964, February 5,  2017  7:44pm EST
    On: June 2, 2016 By: JD  Reported Loss = $500,000.00 I was fitted with a LifeVest due to my heart issue with the goal of improving heart functions. The LifeVest warning vibration and alarm went off almost 100 times in 2 weeks. Thinking it was my heart, I informed my cardiologist. By the end of the second week I started feeling terrible pain in my back directly behind the vibration sensor. I went to the ER and I had a massive infection where the vibration unit burned me. After many attempts to reach a Zoll rep, my cardiologist ended up calling Zoll himself. Zoll finally showed up to the hospital and said it must have been the improper drying of the LifeVest garment or an infected hair. I asked the Zoll rep why did the alarm and vibration go off those hundred plus times and she said the sensors weren’t calibrated properly. The doctors and nurses were furious. 2 surgeries for infection, 3 weeks in the hospital for IV antibiotics and 6 months of regular wound therapy and all Zoll wants is the vest back. No compassion. No offer of compensation for the cost, pain and suffering. Nothing. Shameful. I am looking for individuals who have had malfunctions with the LifeVest. The truth of this defective product must come out. Zoll needs to be reprimanded and compensation paid to all of us who have suffered.
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