Tag Archives: Cardiac Arrest

The History of Defibrillation, Defibrillators and Portable AEDs

From dogs to tablespoons to Zolls, AEDs have come a long way

As you can tell, we’re on a bit of a history kick here at Cardio Partners and AED.com! This week we’re dialing the way-back machine to 1899 to learn more about the origins of defibrillation and the birth of AEDs. To learn more about the History of CPR, check out last week’s post!

1899: The Dog Days of Defibrillation

Defibrillation was discovered at the University of Geneva in 1899 by physiologists Jean-Louis Prevost and Frédéric Batelli. In the course of their research on ventricular fibrillation — a condition that occurs when the heart beats with rapid and erratic electrical impulses and causes the chambers in the heart to quiver ineffectively — they discovered that they could induce fibrillation in dogs and then, with an even higher jolt, defibrillate by applying high-current shocks directly to the surface of the heart.

Admittedly, this was a pretty significant discovery, but because they used a very high voltage, the poor pup’s heart was ultimately incapacitated and subsequent defibrillation theories focused more on the harmful effects of the procedure rather than the potential positive, life-saving effects we’re all familiar with today (National Center for Biotechnology Information).

1933: Self-Starter for Dead Man’s Heart

A generation later, in October of 1933, Popular Mechanics ran an article about Dr. Albert S. Hyman’s promising new invention, Hyman’s Otor.

The device was essentially a “hollow steel needle, through which a carefully insulated wire runs to the open point. Both the needle itself and its central wire are connected to the terminals of a light, spring-driven generator, provided with a current-interrupting device. This mechanism can be adjusted to give electrical impulses with the frequency of the heart-beat from infancy to old age. When the physician faces a case of heart stoppage, he inserts the needle between the first and second ribs into the right auricle of the heart, and starts the generator at the required frequency” (Source: Modern Mechanix).

The device was tested on animals and revived 14 out of 43 victims of cardiac arrest (Science Museum, London). Even though the device received positive press coverage, it was perceived as interfering with natural events and was not accepted by the medical community.

1947: What a Difference a Decade Makes…and Spoons

If you’ve been wondering where the tablespoons come in, you’re about to find out! The first successful defibrillation was reported by an American surgeon, Dr. Claude S. Beck, in 1947.

His patient, a 14-year-old boy, “tolerated the surgery well but went into cardiac arrest during closure” (Resuscitation Journal). Using a combination of direct cardiac massage, drugs, and a shock delivered by what appears to be gauze-covered spoons, the boy was successfully resuscitated (Case Western Reserve University).

1950: Zoll Begins Working on an External Pacemaker

Yes, the Zoll that we all know and love was founded by a Harvard cardiologist and an AED pioneer. “In 1952, Dr. Zoll and a team of other doctors in Boston applied electric charges externally to the chest to resuscitate two patients whose hearts had stopped. The first patient lived only 20 minutes. The second patient survived for 11 months, after 52 hours of electrical stimulation” (New York Times).

1965: Defibrillators Go Mobile

In 1965, a professor from Northern Ireland, Frank Pantridge, invented the world’s first portable defibrillator. Known as  “the father of emergency medicine,” Pantridge’s device relied on a car battery for current. The 150 pound device was installed in an ambulance and was first used in 1966 (BBC News).

1972: LBJ is Saved Today

In 1972, when President Lyndon B. Johnson suffered a massive heart attack at his daughter’s Virginia home, he was revived by a portable defibrillator.

“Dr. Richard S. Crampton of the University of Virginia Medical School in Charlottesville, who rushed a mobile coronary care unit to former President Lyndon B. Johnson…said in an interview: ‘It has tremendous potential application. Conceptually, this ought to be on every plane, train, bus, at stations and at airports, in case someone suddenly collapses. It’s like a fire extinguisher; you just hang it on the wall and you go put out the fire, which happens to be ventricular fibrillation’” (New York Times).

2018: Where We Are With AEDs Now

Today, portable AEDs are so easy to use that many states require their placement in schools, sports arenas, airports, health clubs, casinos, and other public places. Portable AEDs are also available for home use.

Unlike professor Pantridge’s “portable” defibrillator, modern AEDs typically weigh approximately 3 pounds and are fully automated.

For the full scoop on CPR or AEDs, CPR and AED Training, or to purchase an AED, visit AED.com or call Cardio Partners at 866-349-4362. You can also email us at customerservice@cardiopartners.com.

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Why is the Chain of Survival So Important?

Understanding the 5 Links in the Chain of Survival Can Improve Outcomes for SCA Survivors

The Chain of Survival is a metaphorical depiction of a series of critical actions that rescuers (bystanders or paramedics) need to take to improve the likelihood of survival following a cardiac arrest. Why is it so important? Put simply, knowing and understanding the five key “links” in the chain can vastly reduce mortality rates.

A majority of SCA survivors receive immediate help from bystanders. In fact, the time between the onset of arrest symptoms and care determines the likelihood of survival. Whether you’re a trained medical professional or a layperson, understanding the Chain of Survival can make all the difference.

Need more compelling evidence? The Sudden Cardiac Arrest Foundation reports that “If treatment is not provided within 10 minutes, the survival rate is close to zero. Because minutes count, the public plays a crucial role in saving lives threatened by SCA.”

According to the American Heart Association (AHA), the 5 links in the adult out-of-hospital Chain of Survival are:

  • Recognition of cardiac arrest and activation of the emergency response system
  • Early cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) with an emphasis on chest compressions
  • Rapid defibrillation
  • Basic and advanced emergency medical services
  • Advanced life support and post-cardiac arrest care

Early Recognition and Call for Emergency Assistance

The first link, early recognition of cardiac arrest and the prompt activation of the emergency response protocol, is absolutely essential. When an out-of-hospital cardiac emergency occurs, dial 911 immediately. If the incident should occur on a job site or in a professional setting, the internal alert system should also be triggered, which will improve the odds obtaining of skilled, on-site assistance and equipment as soon as possible.

If someone reports experiencing pain or discomfort in the chest, jaw, neck or back, lightheadedness, nausea, vomiting, shortness of breath, or discomfort in the arm or shoulder, call 911. If an individual is unresponsive and is not breathing, call 911.

If possible, send someone to retrieve the nearest automated external defibrillator (AED).

What’s the Difference Between a Heart Attack and Sudden Cardiac Arrest? Well, in short, a heart attack is caused by a blockage in a vein or artery and SCA is caused by an electrical malfunction in the heart. Cardiac arrest may be caused by a heart attack, SCA, drowning, electrocution, or an obstructed airway. To make matters even more confusing, symptoms of a heart attack may vary and can be different for men than for women.

Don’t hesitate to call 911! It’s always better to be safe than sorry.

Prompt CPR with Chest Compressions

The second link dictates that CPR should commence immediately after a cardiac arrest has occurred. If you do not know how to perform CPR, a 911 operator will talk you through the procedure. If you are not trained in CPR, use hands-only CPR by pushing hard and fast on the center of the chest at a rate of 100-120 compressions per minute. The compression depth for adults should be at least two inches and the chest should recoil completely between compressions.

Anyone can perform CPR, and if possible it should be done without interruption until skilled emergency medical responders arrive.

Remember, any assistance is better than no assistance at all.

Rapid Defibrillation

As soon as an AED becomes available, the rescuer should place the device next to the victim. Simply turn it on and follow the visual and audio prompts. If a shock is advised, stand clear and make sure no one is in contact with the patient, then administer the shock.

The Zoll AED Plus, for example, will inform the rescuer when they are or aren’t pushing hard or fast enough. It’ll even show you the depth of each compression in real time. The AED Plus offers support to help rescuers successfully complete the Chain of Survival.

Basic and Advanced Care

The fourth link, basic and advanced emergency medical services, refers to the rapid response of highly trained and equipped EMS personnel who can respond to the patient, administer medications, and offer advanced respiration procedures and interventions as needed. This step is often dependent upon the very first link in the chain: early recognition and call for emergency assistance!

Advanced Life Support and Post Cardiac Arrest Care

The fifth and final link, Advanced Life Support and Post Cardiac Arrest Care, is best left to medical professionals. It may involve a multidisciplinary care team composed of cardiologists, physical therapists, and dieticians.

Ready to learn CPR or First Aid? AED.com and Cardio Partners is a trusted nationwide CPR training center. We offer CPR, First Aid, AED, and bloodborne pathogen training courses in all 50 states in traditional classroom settings and in blended learning courses. To learn more about our courses or to schedule a training, call our team at 866-349-4362 or email Cardio Partners at customerservice@cardiopartners.com. We’d love to hear from you!

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The History of CPR and How it Works

Modern Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation Isn’t All That Modern

Photo Credit: Safar Center for Resuscitation Research

Fun Fact: mouth-to-mouth resuscitation is three centuries old! Who knew? Before we dive into the fascinating history of CPR, however, we’re going to take a moment or two to talk about cardiac arrest, how CPR works, and how something that was first analyzed in a medical publication in 1792 has evolved into modern-day CPR.

A Few Words about Sudden Cardiac Arrest

Sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) can happen at any time. In many cases, victims may appear perfectly healthy and may not have any known pre-existing heart conditions. AED and CPR advocate Rob Seymour, who we profiled in March, is a perfect example!

Unlike a heart attack, which is caused by a blockage in an artery or vein, SCA occurs when the electrical system of the heart stops functioning. While heart attacks are often preceded by some pretty clear symptoms, SCA rarely is. If you’d like to learn more about the difference between a heart attack and SCA and their symptoms, you’re in luck — we covered that topic back in March!  

According to the American Heart Association, approximately 350,000 people suffered cardiac arrest outside of a hospital in 2016. An additional 209,000 cardiac arrests occurred in a hospital setting.

People who experience cardiac arrest outside of a hospital have about a 12% chance of survival. While that’s a pretty dismal statistic, the good news is that the survival rate has been increasing over the past several years. Furthermore, the chances of survival are doubled or even tripled if the victim receives CPR from a bystander—even one with no prior medical training! If that’s not enough, check out our post, 10 Reasons to Learn CPR.

The key to survival for victims of cardiac arrest is often receiving CPR immediately.

How CPR Works

CPR, or cardiopulmonary resuscitation, is an easy-to-learn first aid technique that can keep the victims of a sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) or other medical emergency alive until medical professionals can take over. Chest compressions and rescue breathing work together to keep oxygen flowing in and out of the lungs and to maintain the flow of oxygenated blood throughout the entire body.

When rescue breaths are used, the rescuer’s exhaled breath provides the victim with additional oxygen. Although we exhale carbon dioxide, there’s enough oxygen in every exhaled breath (approximately 16%) to help an SCA victim (University of Washington).

The History of CPR

1700s

In 1740, The Paris Academy of Sciences officially recommends mouth-to-mouth resuscitation for drowning victims. And 17 years later, The Society for the Recovery of Drowned Persons becomes the first organized effort to deal with sudden and unexpected death.

Dr. James Curry publishes “Popular Observations on Apparent Death from Drowning, Suffocation, Etc., with an Account of the Means to be Employed for Recovery” in 1792.

1800s

In 1892 German doctor Friedrich Maass publishes “Resuscitation Technique Following Cardiac Death after Inhalation of Chloroform” in the Berlin Clinical Weekly.

1900s

At the turn of the century, an American surgeon, Dr. George Crile, reports the first successful use of external chest compressions in human resuscitation.

In 1954 Dr. James Elam is the first to prove that expired air was sufficient to maintain adequate oxygenation. Two years later, Elam and Dr. Peter Safar are able to prove the efficacy of CPR and mouth-to-mouth resuscitation.

1960s

The American Heart Association starts a program to acquaint physicians with closed-chest cardiac resuscitation. This program becomes the forerunner of CPR training for the general public.

Cardiologist Leonard Scherlis starts the American Heart Association’s CPR Committee in 1963, and later that same year, the American Heart Association formally endorses CPR.

1970s

In 1972, Leonard Cobb holds the world’s first mass citizen training in CPR in Seattle, Washington called Medic 2. He helps train over 100,000 people during the first two years of the program.

1980s

Now considered common practice by 911 operators, a program to provide telephone instructions for CPR begins in King County, Washington.

1990s

Early Public Access Defibrillation (PAD) programs are developed to provide training and resources to the public to improve bystander assistance rates and to increase the successful resuscitation of cardiac arrest victims.

2000s

The American Heart Association (AHA) and International Liaison Committee on Resuscitation (ILCOR) releases a statement regarding the use of AEDs on children. It is determined that an AED may be used for children one to eight years of age who have no signs of circulation.

In 2008, the AHA releases a statement about Hands-Only™ CPR, saying that bystanders who witness the sudden collapse of an adult should dial 911 and provide high-quality chest compressions by pushing hard and fast in the middle of the victim’s chest.

SOURCES: American Heart Association, Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine, European Resuscitation Journal

For the full scoop on CPR or AEDs, CPR and AED Training, or to purchase an AED, visit AED.com or call Cardio Partners at 866-349-4362. You can also email us at customerservice@cardiopartners.com.

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