SmartVest Review & CF Appointment

Well, here is the long awaited official review of my new SmartVest SQL.  I don't have any current or updated vests to compare this too, so my feed back is based upon what I like/dislike versus the old and out-dated vest.

  • Weight - it is MUCH lighter than my ancient Hilrom Vest.  By all means, it isn't light but definitely a great improvement from my older model.  I can at least carry it myself!
  • Comfort of vest - the fabric is much softer and less scratchy when wearing it.
  • Technology - it has a digital screen, so I can set the time and know for sure how long I'm using it (the old one had a knob to turn).  Also, I can set different programs based on how long I want to use it, etc.  
  • It's quieter!!  Will still doesn't enjoy watching TV with me while I vest, but I don't have to turn the TV to its max volume!  And, the dogs aren't scared of this one as much!
  • There is only 1 I'm not tangled up :)
  • And it comes with a rolling case (that looks like a regular rolling suitcase) and a matching bag for the vest and hose!  Makes traveling super easy!

  • I'm still limited on movement.  The machine has to be plugged in, so I'm stuck sitting in my usual spot.  
  • The noise is still aggravating.
There really isn't much to complain about (other then the fact of having to use it - haha!).  I'm very happy with my decision to get the SmartVest!

And finally, an update on my quarterly appointment in June!  Yikes - that feels like forever ago!

I had been doing well and using my vest, so I was excited to see my PFTs.  Unfortunately, that morning I started feeling a bit froggy and a cough started : (  It literally got worse sitting in the room waiting on the doctor!

FVC -  April:105%        June: 99%
FEV1 - April: 94%        June: 83%
FEF25-75% - April: 68%       June: 45%

So, my small airways were definitely suffering!!  I was prescribed 10 days of Cipro (750mg twice a day)...and that cleared it right up : )  Nothing else to report, all looked good!  So, I'll be going back in September.


  1. My wife has bronchiectasis and we're considering buying a SmartVest SQL out of pocket as Kaiser won't cover it (hope they don't charge us list price!) Do you really use it 2x a day, and is it essential to keeping your lungs clear?

  2. I use my vest once a day for 30 minutes. I fully believe it makes a difference in my airway clearance.

  3. Hi Dana, Is the Smartvest generally considered the best option for CF sufferers and doctors - or are they all much of a muchness?

  4. The SmartVest was new and improved about a year ago when I got mine and there was a big push for people to get them. There are a lot of options, like the Afflovest which is cordless! So, I would suggest seeing all the options and deciding what is best for you.

  5. Hi Dana. How's everything going? I'm doing some research the Smartvest and I just got a few questions I am hoping you can answer.

    1) How long does the smarvest last? Like do you need to a new one every quarter/year or does one smartvest last many many years.

    2) How much does the Smarvest cost? Is it cheaper compares to alternatives?

    Thanks for taking the time to answer my question!

    1. Hey William - thanks for reading! All is well here, thanks!

      1) I've had my SmartVest almost 2 years now...doesn't seem like it was that long ago. It's still working great. I did have a problem with the vest part (the internal bladder popped) but they replaced it, no problem.

      2) It cost about $13,000 back in 2014 but after insurance, I paid just over $2,000 out of pocket. I didn't price any others, but I definitely would check out the Afflovest too...the ability to move around and vest sounds great!

      Let me know if you have any other questions!

  6. Hey Dana,

    Thank you for the answer. I got a few more questions for my research:

    Have you considered other vests? Why did you decide to go with the Smartvest? Was it cheaper compared to alternatives?

    Thank you very much for taking time out of your busy day to answer my questions!

    1. Hey - sorry for the delay!
      At the time, I didn't consider any other vests. This was the latest and greatest at the time (to my knowledge). A SmartVest spokesperson was at my CF walk so I got to see it in person. I mentioned the Afflovest and that is something I am still interested in, but I'm sure insurance won't be willing to get me another just yet.

  7. Hi Dana.
    Interesting article about the Smartvest.
    I also have CF and use the older smartvest (SV2100) and I'm thinking about upgrading. What I love about the SV2100 is that it has a separate pressure knob, and you can really turn up the pressure to get those phlems out. Is the SQL able to give a huge amount of pressure too? I do find it rather loud though, and similar to you with the Hill Rom, my other half cant be in the same room while I am vesting... I like the idea of a quieter vest, but wouldnt want to lose the high pressure the SV2100 has.

    1. Hey there! I won't lie, it is not super quiet by any means. I still have to turn the TV up while I vest, but it's not at the max volume like with the old one. Mine goes up to 100% pressure - I usually use it at about 55%. And for speed (I guess thats what it is), it goes up to 20 Hz. I usually use 15 Hz. Hope that helps!

  8. Hello Dana,
    Here's my story: A month or so ago I was diagnosed with bronchiectasis and pneumonia after experiencing at least 6 months of chronic mucus over-production and my first frightening experience coughing up blood and spending all night in an ER about 3 months ago. I've been put on several rounds of antibiotics, most recently up until today Azirothrmycin 500mg three times a week, and recently was prescribed an Aerobika and a nebulizer that uses an Albuterol Sulfate solution. The other day I saw more blood than usual in my mucus production/sputum, so I called and reported it to the pulmonologist's office with some questions. In response, yesterday my pulmonologist prescribed me a SmartVest (I guess it's the standard in-home model, SV2100). I will have to use it 2X a day in addition to my other daily self-treatments. Fortunately I believe my insurance will cover the cost.
    I have no experience with this type of device. I assume that the in-home trainer that the manufacturer sends out and my doctor will ultimately answer most basic questions. But I'd like to know at least a few things ASAP:
    -How long does the SmartVest need to be used per session? I see you do it for 30 minutes.
    -Can you basically do any ordinary things while "vesting" as long as you can do it while sitting down, other than eating or drinking?
    -The manufacturer’s website training video recommended against using after a large meal or while eating or drinking, but if you’ve found that to be not impossible or overly uncomfortable, at least up to certain limits, can you comment?
    -The website indicates you can use a nebulizer while using the vest if permitted by the doctor. Do you have doctor permission to use your inhaler or any other respiratory self-treatment devices while using it? If so does that work for you?
    -How often do you clean the vest? The training video just recommends cleaning it “regularly”.
    -Any other tips for newbies?
    Thank you,

    1. Hi Joe!
      I'm sorry to hear about your complications. I hope everything gets better for you soon. Here are the answers to your questions.
      - My doctor wants me to do 30 minute sessions...I believe that is the norm, but definitely follow up with you care team to ensure you are doing it as much as they want you to. You can adjust the pressure and frequency so, find out what settings you need to use too.
      - When I vest, that's usually when I catch up on emails, play on my iPad or laptop, and Facebook. Since it isn't cordless, you are restricted in your movement abilities. It's hard to write while you are vesting, handwriting is a bit shaky. I can't always read a book because it gives me a headache trying to focus so hard. Definitely don't eat and drink while its working. I take sips of water in between my intervals if needed. (I have my session broken up to 3-10 minute intervals)
      - I personally don't eat a large meal before vesting, since its a snug fit, and I don't like having a full belly being shaken. I understand why they make that recommendation.
      - Yes, I use a nebulizer while vesting (hypertonic saline is what I'm prescribed). I like being able to do both things at the same time and cut out on the amount of time I'm doing treatments. Definitely consult your doctor and make sure they want you to use a nebulizer during it.
      - I won't lie, I don't clean my vest. I keep the machine sitting next to my couch, so it gets dusted when I clean. And I put the vest in the ottoman when I'm not wearing it, so it stays clean. I do wipe of the hose when it gets slimed on by one of my lovely dogs. Guess I might need to read up on the cleaning suggestions! LOL
      - My big tip is to do the treatment. I can feel when I miss a couple days (yes, it does happen) and I believe it really works to keep my lungs clear. Its very easy to get set up and ready to use. Find something you like to do while you vest so you are more motivated to use it. And, I like to reward myself when I stick to my treatment regimen. You can do it!!!!!
      Best wishes,

    2. Dana, thanks so much for the reply. One follow-up question: You said you have your session broken up to 3-10 minute intervals. How much time do you take between intervals and do you count that toward the 30 minutes?

    3. Also I guess normal conversations and phone calls are not really possible while vesting because the vest apparently gives you "helicopter" voice due to its vibration?

    4. I usually wait a minute or so in between my intervals - to allow myself to cough. The 30 minutes is actually using the vest, not any break times.
      Yeah - phone calls are difficult. I talk to anyone in the room with me and they can understand what I'm saying, but with the noise and shaking, phone calls aren't ideal.


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