FLORISSANT, MO (KTVI)-- As a retired gym teacher, Jim Paulsen likes staying in shape, but last year, he noticed he was getting tired and short of breath when he exercised.
Turns out, doctors at the Mercy Heart Hospital discovered Jim had a serious heart condition, and would need to have a defibrillator implanted his chest, but until he could have the surgery, his doctor recommended Jim try a relatively new device called a Zoll Life Vest, a defibrillator the patient wears under their clothes.
Sensors on the vest can tell when something is wrong with the heart, and if a shock is needed to fix it, a shock is what they will get.
"The patient typically feels like somebody just kicked them in the chest, so they will notice it," said Dr. Amit Doshi, Mercy electrophysiologist/cardiologist.
And that's what happened to Jim on May 26th, just a few days after he started wearing the Life Vest.
"I jumped out of bed and just kind of stood over him and then there was a message that came from the battery pack saying you will receive treatment in five seconds," said Jim`s wife Terry Paulsen.
Jim had gone into cardiac death in his sleep.
"I don`t know what made me wake up, I guess the jolt did. I didn`t feel the jolt, I just kind of woke up," Jim Paulsen said. "It is kind of like a miracle thing for me."
"We have used this device 24 times over the past two years and we have had four successful saves over that interval. That doesn't mean the other 20 devices didn't work, they just didn't need to go off," Doshi said.
Now, Jim has had an internal defibrillator implanted, and his heart is getting stronger every day.
"We just celebrated out 34th year of marriage, so I am grateful," Terry Paulsen said.
Now, along with their anniversary date, there will be another date Jim can never forget, May 26th, 2012, the day he got the shock of his life.
Website: Zoll LifeVest