- A WCD can offer temporary protection from cardiac arrest.
- Most activities are allowed with a WCD
- Keep contact information handy for when you have questions or concerns
What are wearable defibrillators?
Some survivors may need temporary protection from cardiac arrest when they go home from the hospital. A wearable cardioverter-defibrillator (WCD) may be recommended.
What is a WCD?
A WCD is worn on the body underneath your clothes. Unlike an AED, this does not require another person to use it in case of cardiac arrest. Unlike an ICD, this does not require surgery. It is temporary and can be removed when no longer needed. A WCD can allow you to leave the hospital and spend time alone while being protected in case of recurrence.
Who might get one?
A WCD may be given to people temporarily at increased risk of cardiac arrest. Examples are situations where doctors want to allow time for the heart to recover or to see if other treatments are working. They would usually only be worn for a short period- weeks to months. After this time, longer-term decisions can be made. This may mean getting an implanted device like an ICD, in some cases. Remember all medical situations are different. Your care team can explain why a WCD may make sense for you.
Options for WCDs
WCDs are covered by insurance if your doctor considers it necessary, but insurance coverage can be difficult to navigate. On your insurance plan, a WCD may fall under the category of “Durable Medical Equipment.” There is usually a monthly cost until you return the device to the company.
After your doctor recommends you wear one, a representative from the company will be available to talk to you and your family. They can show you the WCD, answer questions, and be good resources for navigating insurance coverage.
Living with a WCD
Despite the peace of mind you get from knowing you are protected in case of another life-threatening arrhythmia, the WCD does have some limitations. The device must be fitted to each patient and may not fit all body types well. It cannot function as a pacemaker and requires daily care and upkeep. You will need to learn how to respond to alerts. The device must be removed for bathing, but no protection is afforded while the device is off. Therefore, it is advisable that caregivers or other persons be nearby during these periods when the WCD is not worn. Comfort may also be an issue for some patients due to the size and weight of the device.
Know who to contact
Keep contact information handy for your care team and for the WCD company, for questions and concerns that come up. You may also be able to find answers from the materials provided to you or on the company website.
Wearable Cardioverter-Defibrillator Therapy for the Prevention of Sudden Cardiac Death: https://www.ahajournals.org/doi/10.1161/CIR.0000000000000394#d1e1134
Thank you to our contributors
Jasmine Wylie & Fran Lesicko
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