The new defibrillator is worn like a vest and has electrodes inside which monitor the heart. The patient automatically receives a life-saving shock in an emergency. If the patient becomes unconscious and the heart is in a life-threatening rhythm, pads ooze a contact gel and the defibrillator goes off.
Patients like Gary Evans, who is awaiting a heart transplant, are comforted by the life-saving ability of the defibrillator vest. In the year that Gary's worn the vest, it has never had to shock his heart back into rhythm. But he's not about to go anywhere without it.
"I don't even think about it. It's just there," says Evans, who wears it comfortably under his shirt.
Cleveland Clinic cardiologist Patrick Tchou says the vest, for select patients, is an alternative to having defibrillators implanted inside the chest.
"There are a bunch of safety features that are built into this device so that it doesn't deliver a shock based on a false alarm and it's ability to detect the real thing is very good," says Tchou.
"If you do need it for a relatively short time, for example, someone who's going to transplant, then it's a very worthwhile consideration," he adds.
The Cleveland Clinic Hospital was the first in the country to test the new technology.