Discover what lies at the heart of this live-saving device
According to the American Heart Association, 326,000 cases of cardiac arrest occur outside of hospitals every year, with 4 out of 5 of those occurring in the home. In more than half of those cases, the event goes unwitnessed and it’s fatal more than 90 percent of the time. An automated external defibrillator (AED) is an indispensable device designed to allow a fast and effective response in the event of an alteration in heart rhythm. To understand just why it’s so valuable, let’s take a look at how the heart works and how an AED tackles this problem.
The beat of the heart
Typically, the heart rate of an adult at rest is between 60 to 100 beats per minute (BPM). This will increase with exertion, of course, and if an individual is in good physical shape they may have a resting heart rate of less than 60 BPM. The rate at which all of our hearts beat can be influenced by fitness and activity level while also being affected by factors such as medication, body weight, and how we’re feeling emotionally.
If our hearts are not in rhythm, then we’re suffering from arrhythmia; an irregular and erratic heartbeat caused by changes in the organ’s electrical impulses. This irregularity can cause dizziness, fainting and potentially lasting damage to the brain and other organs through insufficient blood flow. In the best cases, it can be managed successfully with medication, but in a bad situation it can potentially lead to cardiac arrest.
How defibrillation works
Defibrillator pads are attached to the chest of a person (or sometimes both on their front and on their back) whose heart is behaving erratically. An electrical current is run through the pads and into the subject’s body with the purpose of “resetting” the heart’s electrical signals back into a normal rhythm.
The faster defibrillation can take place, the greater the chances of survival. For particularly high risk patients, an internal defibrillator may be fitted to help monitor and regulate arrhythmia. Thankfully, defibrilators are becoming more and more common in public spaces, especially in places such as gyms, airports, and other high-traffic areas. The presence of an AED is essential for preventing deaths by sudden cardiac arrests (SCA) that occur outside of a medical facility.
The AED in action
Portable and lightweight, the AED is an excellent tool for handling instances of ventricular tachycardia (rapid and regular beat) and ventricular fibrillation (rapid irregularity). Not only are they user-friendly (though training in both their use and CPR is highly recommended), they can be kept safely at home or in public spaces.
Other than its lighter weight and portability, the AED functions much like its larger cousins found in medical facilities. An AED’s fine-tuned computer can ascertain the need for a shock to correct irregularities in rhythm and it provides dynamic instructions to the user – anyone who can follow these directions can actively save a life.
Why you should own an AED
Dealing with any medical issue can be intimidating, especially when it deals with the heart. Owning an AED at home, especially when you or a loved one has a known heart condition, vastly increases the chance of survival in cases of SCA. And their wider adoption by individuals, corporations, governments, and other organizations in public and private settings will save lives.
One Beat CPR is Florida’s leading CPR and AED training center, as well as an Authorized Master Distributor of Philips AEDs. A family-owned business with over 12 years’ experience, we offer American Heart Association certified instructional courses and the best AEDs in the industry. To learn more about our services and products, call us at 954 321 5305, toll free at 855 663 2328, or get in touch via our contact form.