Wayne Huff is Alive Today, Thanks to a Wearable Defibrillator
"We were amazed Wayne was able to live with that severe blockage," Christopher Allen, M.D.
Wayne Huff wanted to be there for his wife, Mary, during her breast cancer surgery last November.
But he knew something wasn't right with his own body. As he described, “I wanted to get her through the surgery and then I was going to go to the ER.”
Mary knew. As she was being prepped for surgery at St. Anthony’s Medical Center, she called for nurses to check out her husband. Doctors believe Wayne suffered a heart attack four days earlier and had lived with a 99 percent blockage of his left anterior descending artery.
“We call that artery the ‘widow maker’ because a blockage there often causes death,” said Christopher Allen, M.D., a cardiologist with St. Anthony’s Heart Specialty Associates. “We were amazed Wayne was able to live with that severe blockage.”
The attack had severely damaged Wayne’s heart muscle, putting him at increased risk for a life-threatening sudden cardiac arrest. To make sure Wayne was protected, Dr. Allen prescribed him with a temporary wearable defibrillator, a device that patients wear under their clothes which monitors the heart around the clock.
Just nine days after Wayne and Mary returned home, Wayne stepped into the bathroom and suffered a sudden cardiac arrest (SCA), abruptly losing consciousness and collapsing to the floor. His heart spiked into a dangerous rhythm called ventricular fibrillation (VF), in which the heart starts beating so fast that it quivers or shakes instead of pumping blood to the body and brain. It is deadly if not treated in minutes; 95 percent of SCA victims die before they can reach some form of emergency treatment.
But Wayne survived. His wearable defibrillator detected the life-threatening arrhythmia and, within one minute, delivered a treatment shock that restored his normal heart rhythm. Wayne regained consciousness shortly after the treatment and Mary called 911. He was taken by ambulance to St. Anthony’s Medical Center where an implantable defibrillator was placed in his chest for long-term protection from sudden death.
Wayne is quick to credit Dr. Allen for protecting him.
“He saved my life,” Wayne said.