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How Does an Automated External Defibrillator (AED) Work?
In this video, we demonstrate how an AED works.
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An automated external defibrillator (AED) is a portable electronic device that automatically diagnoses the life-threatening cardiac arrhythmias of ventricular fibrillation (VF) and pulseless ventricular tachycardia, and is able to treat them through defibrillation, the application of electricity which stops the arrhythmia, allowing the heart to re-establish an effective rhythm.
An AED is a computerised defibrillator that automatically analyses the heart rhythm in people experiencing cardiac arrest. When appropriate, it delivers an electrical shock to the heart to restore its normal rhythm. The conversion of a ventricular arrhythmia to its normal rhythm by an electrical shock is called defibrillation.
Sudden cardiac arrest occurs when the heart suddenly and unexpectedly stops pumping blood. It can happen to anyone, and signs include sudden collapse and immediate loss of consciousness.
Unlike heart attacks, which are caused by a blockage in an artery to the heart, sudden cardiac arrest is caused when the heart's electrical system malfunctions. This produces abnormal heart rhythms, called arrhythmias, that make the heart unable to pump blood.
If cardiac arrest does occur, rapid treatment with a medical device called an automated external defibrillator (AED) can be life-saving.
Defibrillation is time-sensitive. The probability of survival decreases by 7 per cent to 10 per cent for every minute that a victim stays in a life-threatening arrhythmia.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulates AEDs as medical devices. It evaluates them for safety and effectiveness before being marketed.
Most AEDs are in plain sight -
You can find AEDs in many public places, including offices, schools, shopping malls, grocery stores, and airports.
Emergency first-responders are typically equipped with and trained to use AEDs. Some people with underlying cardiac conditions can be at a higher risk of sudden cardiac arrest. Your health care provider can tell you if a home AED is something you should consider.
An AED system includes an AED device and accessories, such as a battery, pad electrodes, and an adapter. The devices give verbal instructions to users.
With simple audio and visual commands, AEDs are designed to be simple to use for the layperson, and the use of AEDs is taught in many first aid, certified first responder, and basic life support (BLS) level cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) classes.
This is how they work:
AEDs are not difficult to use, but training in the use of AEDs is highly recommended. This training, in connection with CPR training, is offered by many major health organisations. Some training is available online.
Classes can teach you how to recognise the signs of a sudden cardiac arrest when to call emergency medical services, do CPR, and use an AED.
Some people may be afraid to use an AED because they're worried something may go wrong. But most states' Good Samaritan laws and the Federal Cardiac Arrest Survival Act provide some protection for bystanders who respond to emergencies.
But as always, in an emergency, call 911 immediately. If you're somewhere that has an emergency response system that includes a visible number, call that number for assistance. In either case, an operator can give instructions on how you can help someone who has a sudden cardiac arrest.
The Mandatory Training Group is the leading UK provider of CPD accredited e-learning courses and Ofqual approved qualifications.