Lester Salings (left) wears a LifeVest Wearable Defibrillator on Wedneday with his cardiologist Frank Schwender at the doctor's Bowling Green office. Salings, who has since had heart surgery, credits the device for saving his life. (Photo by Miranda Pederson/Daily News)

Lester Salings has been dealing with matters of the heart for the past month.

In two weeks’ time, the 60-year-old Bowling Green man had symptoms of a heart attack and had surgery to place a stent. He had been to both Greenview Regional Hospital and The Medical Center for his heart and stent issues.

“It was kind of scary,” he said. “I had a strong heart up to that point.”

Doctors were concerned about his weakened heart, so they decided to fit him at The Medical Center with a LifeVest.

“I’ve had it for three days,” Salings said Wednesday at Western Kentucky Heart and Lung Associates, where he sat with his friend Renee Hayes and his cardiologist, Dr. Frank Schwender. “I actually feel better than I did two months ago.”

The LifeVest is a wearable defibrillator manufactured by Zoll. Patients wear it under their clothes, and it monitors their heartbeat. If the device detects a dangerously rapid heartbeat, then it can deliver a shock to restore normal heart rhythm.

The Zoll website at says the vest is worn by patients at risk for sudden cardiac arrest. It’s lightweight and easy to wear. The device has two components – the garment, which is worn under clothing, and a monitor, which is worn around the waist or from a shoulder strap.

“It will sound an alarm, and the patient will push a response button,” Schwender said. “If the patient is not awake, then the vest will deliver a shock to restore a normal heart rhythm.”

Hayes has already seen the LifeVest work. She had been keeping an eye on Salings since he had been having health issues. She was asleep when she heard a noise.

“I was in the other room and heard the LifeVest. He had shortness of breath,” she said. “It said ‘treatment has been given.’ It had shocked him.”

Salings doesn’t remember the incident. Schwender said he had probably passed out, and the LifeVest restarted his heart. Salings said that when he regained consciousness, he “was covered with sweat.”

“It scared me half to death,” Hayes said. “He looked like Frankenstein. It is always monitoring his heartbeat.”

The LifeVest has been used for about a year, Schwender said. The device has been prescribed to more than 60,000 patients, 30 of whom are in Kentucky. Salings is the first in Bowling Green.

“I wear it 24-7. I’ll keep this thing for life. I owe him my life,” he said, nodding at Schwender.

For more information about the LifeVest, call 800-543-3267 or visit

Here is some basic information about the LifeVest wearable defibrillator, according to Zoll:

•The LifeVest is the first wearable defibrillator. Unlike an ICD, the LifeVest is worn outside the body rather than implanted in the chest. It requires no bystander intervention.

•The LifeVest 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. The device alerts the patient prior to delivering a treatment shock, and thus allows a conscious patient to delay treatment.

•The LifeVest is used for a wide range of patient conditions, including following a heart attack, before or after bypass surgery or stent placement, as well as cardiomyopathy or congestive heart failure, that place patients at particular risk.  To date, the LifeVest has been prescribed to more than 60,000 patients.