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Ochsner Gives Cardiac Patient Second Chance Through Wearable “LifeVest”

Ochsner Gives Cardiac Patient Second Chance Through Wearable “LifeVest”

It’s been a long and bumpy road for Marion Meinke of Jefferson, LA, who for the better part of a decade worried his heart could give out at any moment. 

The 63-year-old first experienced heart complications in the early 2000’s, but it was a more recent event which nearly ended his life. In October 2015, Marion was diagnosed with ischemic cardiomyopathy, a condition that weakens the heart. Dr. David Elizardi, a cardiologist at the John Ochsner Heart and Vascular Institute, and team decided to fit Marion with a wearable “LifeVest” following a confirmed heart attack. The vest is designed to protect heart patients at risk for sudden cardiac arrest (SCA), providing protection during their changing condition before permanent SCA risk has not been established. 

“The vest continuously monitors the patient’s heart and, if a life-threatening heart rhythm is detected, the device delivers a treatment shock to restore normal heart rhythm.” said Dr. Elizardi. “The life-saving potential is evident, but it also provides patients and their families with a sound peace of mind.”

The next morning Marion suffered a second heart attack when he was asleep at home. His heart had spiked into dangerous rapid rhythm, beating so fast that it quivered instead of pumping vital blood to his body and brain. SCA is fatal if not treated in minutes and 95% of victims die before they can reach some form of emergency help. Many pass away in their sleep, but because he was wearing the vest, Marion survived.

“It saved my life – pure and simple,” Marion said. “If they wouldn’t have done that, I wouldn’t be around today. I will forever be grateful to the team at Ochsner.”

Marion’s LifeVest detected the life-threatening arrhythmia and, within one minute, delivered a treatment shock that restored his normal heart rhythm and saved his life. Marion regained consciousness shortly after the treatment and his sister brought him to Ochsner for a follow up appointment. Upon arrival, he suffered a second SCA and was again treated by the LifeVest.

“In the end, it's a team effort that paid off with each member of the team taking part in saving Marion’s life,” Dr. Elizardi said. “As an industry leader, we are always looking for new ways to provide our patients and their families with the best care possible.”

Marion later received an implantable defibrillator for long-term protection from sudden death. Now back at home, he’s focusing on his recovery and getting stronger every day. He’s looking forward to his second chance at life.

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