Wearable Cardioverter Defibrillator | Abnormal Heart Rhythm | MedStar Health

A vest that can deliver a shock to the heart to restore a normal heart rhythm

This device monitors your heart and, if an abnormal heart rhythm is detected, delivers a shock to restore a normal heartbeat. Your doctor may recommend a wearable cardioverter defibrillator as a short-term option if you’re waiting to receive an implantable cardioverter defibrillator or you’re at risk for sudden cardiac arrest.

Our Electrophysiology Program is the mid-Atlantic region’s leading referral program for patients with heart rhythm disorders. We have an advanced lab that helps us treat and manage even the most complex cases.

What to expect from a wearable cardioverter defibrillator

A wearable cardioverter defibrillator consists of two parts: a garment and a monitor. The garment, which looks like a vest that can be worn under your clothing, contains patches called electrodes that stick to your chest and monitor the electrical activity in your heart. The electrodes send information to the monitor, which is worn around the waist like a fanny pack or from a shoulder strap.

If the device detects a life-threatening heart rhythm, it will sound an alarm. You can press a button to indicate a false alarm, and if you become unconscious or don’t respond, a shock will be delivered through the electrodes. Up to five shocks can be delivered if your heartbeat doesn’t return to normal.


Angiogram (Angiography)

An angiogram is a special X-ray taken as a special dye is injected through a thin, flexible tube called a catheter to detect blockages or aneurysms in blood vessels.

Chest X-ray

Chest X-rays use a small dose of radiation to create pictures of the structures inside the chest, including the lungs, heart, and chest wall.

Computerized tomography (CT) scan

The cardiac computed tomography scan, or cardiac CT, uses X-rays to create three-dimensional images of your heart and blood vessels.


An echocardiogram uses high-frequency sound waves to create images of your heart.

Electrocardiogram (ECG)

An electrocardiogram, also known as an ECG, measures the heart’s electrical activity.

Event monitors

An event monitor is a small device that records the heart’s electrical activity. It’s similar to an electrocardiogram, but whereas an electrocardiogram takes place over a few minutes, an event monitor measures heart rhythms over a much longer time.

Holter monitors

A Holter monitor is a small device that records the heart’s electrical activity. It’s similar to an electrocardiogram, but whereas an electrocardiogram records over a few minutes, a Holter monitor records over the course of a day or two.

Stress tests

Stress tests are used to assess how your heart works during physical activity. There are several types of stress tests, including treadmill or bike stress tests, nuclear stress tests, stress echocardiograms, and chemically induced stress tests.

Additional information

Electrophysiology program

We are leaders in developing and using the latest procedures and technologies to treat heart rhythm disorders, and our cardiac electrophysiology laboratory is one of the most sophisticated in North America.

Our providers

Dr Brian Case listens to the heart of a patient during an office visit at MedStar Health. Both people are wearing masks.

Expert cardiology care

Getting the care you need starts with seeing one of our cardiologists.

Our locations

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MedStar Good Samaritan Hospital

5601 Loch Raven Blvd.
Baltimore, MD 21239

MedStar Southern Maryland Hospital Center

7503 Surratts Rd.
Clinton, MD 20735

MedStar Union Memorial Hospital

201 E. University Pkwy.
Baltimore, MD 21218

MedStar Franklin Square Medical Center

9000 Franklin Square Dr.
Baltimore, MD 21237

MedStar St Mary's Hospital

25500 Point Lookout Rd.
Leonardtown, MD 20650

MedStar Harbor Hospital

3001 S. Hanover St.
Baltimore, MD 21225

MedStar Washington Hospital Center

110 Irving St. NW
Washington, DC 20010

MedStar Georgetown University Hospital

3800 Reservoir Rd. NW
Washington, DC, 20007

Ask MedStar Heart & Vascular Institute

Have general questions for our heart and vascular program? Email us at AskMHVI@medstar.net. If you have clinically-specific questions, please contact your physician’s office.