Younger patients suffering from heart failure

Published: Jul. 10, 2012 at 10:40 PM CDT|Updated: Jul. 11, 2012 at 12:54 AM CDT
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Amarillo, TX - Our area is seeing an increase in patients with heart failure.

What's even more alarming is the age at when they are being diagnosed.

A technology is being used to help save some lives.

Area doctors offices, ER rooms and hospitals have been seeing two to three patients a week, under the age of 55.

This is something they say is unusual and becoming more frequent.

A product called LifeVest is being prescribed to patients at risk of sudden cardiac arrest.

It just recently saved its first life in the panhandle.

"I went to bed and around 1:30 a.m. My wife woke me up and this thing had already shocked me once. I didn't have a clue about what happened," says Shawn Fraley, heart failure patient.

Shawn Fraley doesn't remember much about the night he went into cardiac arrest.

What he does remember, is that the LifeVest product kept him alive.

"It's a wearable defibrillator, it goes all the way around you. It goes right around your chest and it has little pads that sense your heart beat. If it detects a bad rhythm, it will shock you," says Shawn Fraley, heart failure patient.

"Shawn came in with symptoms of generalized weakness, fatigue, not feeling very well. We diagnosed him with heart failure, secondary to bad blockages in the heart. Considering his age, he is very young for that. We have been seeing younger patients with heart attacks and bad heart failures," says Dr. Rajesh Nambiar, Amarillo Heart Group.

Fraley says without the vest he wouldn't have survived.

It only took 34 seconds for the shock to save his life.

"Well the night before I didn't even wear it, I thought it was a little over-kill at first. The very next night, on April 18th, I put it on thankfully," says Shawn Fraley, heart failure patient.

He is now sharing his story with others in hopes he can make a difference.

"It's a product I didn't know much about but if anybody is prescribed one, don't hesitate to wear it. It could save your life, it sure did mine," says Shawn Fraley, heart failure patient.