RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – Ray Gupton owes his life to his cardiologist.

The 63-year-old suffered a massive heart attack while working in his yard at his home outside Raleigh. According to the Centers for Disease Control, more than 700,000 Americans have a heart attack each year.

Even when a person survives a heart attack, they’re not out of the woods.

“They have poor heart function, they just had a heart attack, and while they recover there is this risk of cardiac arrest,” said cardiologist Dr. Pratik Desai.

So Desai prescribed Gupton the “LifeVest,” a wearable defibrillator.

“Five days I didn’t know if I was in the world. I mean that’s how serious my heart attack was, so when he prescribed it, [there was] no question that I was going to wear it,” Gupton said.

LifeVest continuously monitored Gupton’s heartbeat, and 18 days after his attack, something happened.

“I was sitting in the chair, watching television, about 3 o’clock in the afternoon and I got dizzy and I passed out for about 40 seconds, and while I was out my heart stopped beating, it was just live quivering, and the LifeVest, its sensors picked up on it and it shocked me,” Gupton said. “When I came to, I felt fine. I didn’t know nothing happened.”

The LifeVest detected his irregular heartbeat, delivered a shock restoring his normal heart rhythm, and saved his life.

“It’s constantly monitoring the rhythm,” Desai said. “When it detects tachycardia…it waits a few seconds…and if the patient remains in it, then it shocks the patient.”

The LifeVest is also used for before or after bypass surgery or stent replacement, as well as for those with cardiomyopathy or congestive heart failure.

“Because it’s such an instantaneous event, and there is very brief time for you to reestablish the rhythm…it’s lifesaving,” said Desai.

“It’s a lifesaving thing. I don’t know how to explain it any better than that,” Gupton said.For more information:LifeVestCDC American Hearth Month