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A Defibrillator is a life saving device, which restores a normal heartbeat to a victim after a cardiac arrest. The electrical pulse it emits to the heart restores it to a regular heartbeat, and allows the heart to return to pumping blood around the body.

Modern defibrillators are designed so that almost no training is required to use them. Placing the two pads, which should be either side of the heart arteries, is the only action required of a rescuer, other than pressing the shock button on semi-automatic defibrillators. They are compact, sturdy and portable.

What is a Defibrillator?

There are many types of defibrillators but they all work for one sole reason, to re-establish a normal heart rhythm. When the electric shock is made it depolarizes a critical mass of the heart muscle, terminates the arrhythmia (Irregular heartbeat), and allows normal sinus rhythm to be reestablished by the body's natural pacemaker, in the sinoatrial node of the heart. Here is a breakdown of how the defibrillator can save a life:

  1. Once a patient is confirmed to be in a cardiac arrest, paddles are placed on the bare chest of the patient – one to the top left of the chest and one to the bottom right.
  2. These paddles are covered with sensors called electrodes and connected to a circuit with a high voltage source(usually 200-1000 volts).
  3. The electrodes send information about the person's heart rhythm to a computer in the AED which analyzes the heart rhythm to find out if and when an electric shock is needed.
  4. An electrical current is delivered by the electrodes through the heart muscle.
  5. This electrical current aims to shock the heart out of fibrillation (hence defibrillator) and get it working normally again.

People are growing more and more aware of the effects of Sudden Cardiac Arrests (SCA) and the importance of responsive, knowledgeable, first aid treatment is paramount to the survival of an SCA sufferer. A Sudden Cardiac Arrest can happen to anyone, any size, age, gender, height, weight, fitness or whereabouts.

  • For every minute that passes without defibrillation chances of survival decrease by 7-10%.
  • Heart disease (including heart attacks) was the leading cause of death for both sexes in England and Wales in 2005.
  • Cardiac arrest patients have a survival rate up to 49% when a defibrillator is used within the first five to seven minutes after the attack.
  • The survival rate for SCA is less than 5%. This is due to limited AED accessibility.
  • 30% - 50% of SCA victims would survive if AEDs were used within five minutes.
  • If a person does not need an AED shock, the AED will not deliver.

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Defibrillator facts...

  • For every minute that passes without defibrillation chances of survival decrease by 7-10%.
  • Heart disease (including heart attacks) was the leading cause of death for both sexes in England and Wales in 2005.
  • Cardiac arrest patients have a survival rate up to 49% when a defibrillator is used within the first five to seven minutes after the attack.
  • The survival rate for SCA is less than 5%. This is due to limited AED accessibility.
  • If a SCA sufferer does not need an AED shock, the AED will not deliver.
  • 30% – 50% of SCA victims would survive if AEDs were used within five minutes.

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Defibrillators

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