What does AED stand for?
AED stands for Automatic External Defibrillator (or Automated External Defibrillation).
What is an AED?
An AED is a device used to administer an electric shock through the chest wall to the heart. Built-in computers assess the patient’s heart rhythm, judge whether defibrillation is needed, and then administer the shock. Audible and/or visual prompts guide the user through the process.
How does an AED work?
A microprocessor inside the defibrillator interprets (analyzes) the victim’s heart rhythm through adhesive electrodes (some AED models require you to press an analyze button). The computer analyzes the heart rhythm and advises the operator whether a shock is needed. AEDs advise a shock only to ventricular fibrillation and fast ventricular tachycardia. The electric current is delivered through the victim’s chest wall through adhesive electrode pads.
Why are AED’s important?
AEDs are important because they strengthen the chain of survival. They can restore a normal heart rhythm in victims of sudden cardiac arrest. New, portable AEDs enable more people to respond to a medical emergency that requires defibrillation. When a person suffers a sudden cardiac arrest, their chance of survival decreases by 7% to 10% for each minute that passes without defibrillation. AEDs save lives.
Who can use an AED?
Most AEDs are designed to be used by nonmedical personnel such as police, firefighters, flight attendants, security guards, and other lay rescuers who have been properly trained. Having more people in the community who can respond to a medical emergency by providing defibrillation will greatly increase sudden cardiac arrest survival rates.
Why does someone having a heart attack need an AED?
When a heart attack becomes a full cardiac arrest, the heart most often goes into uncoordinated electrical activity called fibrillation. The heart twitches ineffectively and can’t pump blood. The AED delivers electric current to the heart muscle, momentarily stunning the heart, stopping all activity. This gives the heart an opportunity to resume beating effectively.
Will an AED always reuscitate someone in cardiac arrest?
The AED treats only treats a heart in ventricular fibrillation (VF), an irregular heart rhythm. In cardiac arrest without VF, the heart doesn’t respond to electric currents but needs medications. The victim needs breathing support. AEDs are less successful when the victim has been in cardiac arrest for more than a few minutes, especially if no CPR was provided.