If you have watched any TV medical drama, you most likely have seen somebody whose heart suddenly stops beating and is then shocked back to life by a doctor who screams, “Clear!” before administering a jolt of electricity to the person’s chest. While you are reading this, someone somewhere is collapsing from a cardiac arrest. Chances are that he will not survive this sudden altered heart rhythm (arrhythmia).
Because of this arrhythmia, the heart can’t pump effectively.
Arrhythmia prevents blood flow to your brain and other vital organs. Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) can manage blood flowing to your heart and brain for a while. However, generally only an automated external defibrillator (AED) can restore the heart’s normal rhythm.
Using CPR and AED together can increase the odds of a cardiac arrest survival. Most people who go into cardiac arrests die because they do not get the electric jolt to the heart early enough. This type of procedure is no longer limited only to the hospitals anymore. It can be done at home if you have an AED.
AEDs are easy to use and anyone can master how to use one within a minute. The odds of surviving a cardiac arrest decreases 10% for every minute the heart stays in arrhythmia. Jolt the heart back to a normal rhythm within 2 minutes, and the victim has an 80% chance of surviving. Jolt the heart after 7 minutes – the fair amount of time it takes an ambulance to arrive – and the chances are lesser than 30%.
Despite there is an AED on site, the victim will still require professional assistance as soon as possible.
If somebody goes into cardiac arrest, calling an ambulance is a must. Again, having an AED may allow you to resuscitate a heart’s rhythm in that few crucial minutes earlier than the ambulance arrives. If you need to use an AED on somebody, first an ambulance to get help on the way.
Then start CPR before you switch on the AED, and use CPR again if necessary. In such emergency situation, the AED will guide the user step-by-step. It tells the user how to inspect for breathing and a pulse and how to place electrode pads on the victim’s chest. As soon as the pads are in position, the AED measures the victim’s heart rhythm and decides if a jolt is required.
If so, the AED instructs the user to stay clear and push the button to send the jolt. The AED is designed not to send a jolt if it is not required. The AED will likewise guide the user through CPR. The procedure may be repeated as required until paramedics take over.
Anyone can buy an AED with a doctor’s prescription.
An AED will be a sound investment for people who have survived a cardiac arrest but who do not have pacemakers implanted. Having an AED might give them a peace of mind and save their lives. AEDs have to be maintained well.
Replace the batteries and electrode pads every few years. Register the AEDs with the manufacturer to receive alerts and notices. Take note if the AEDs start to beep or flash. AEDs are programmed to assess themselves to ensure they are functioning correctly.
Prior to buying one, speak with your doctor and do your research. When you do get an AED for your household, keep it somewhere that is easily accessible. Be sure that family and friends know where it is kept and how to operate it. Enroll in a class that teaches you how to operate an AED and what you need to know, such as how to handle uncommon situations like where to place the pads on a person with a hairy chest or an implanted pacemaker, and CPR, a vital part of the procedure.
A class may help you to operate the AED with confidence and speed. Find a first aid course now and tell us what you think in the comments below: