What Are AEDs?

What is an AED and How Does it Work?

You’d be surprised how often we hear “What’s an AED? I know that I know, I just can’t quite come up with it.” Well, we won’t keep you in suspense any longer: an automated external defibrillator (AED) is a portable and user-friendly electronic device that delivers an electric shock through the chest to the heart. 

AEDs automatically diagnose and respond to life-threatening heart rhythms. The shock delivered by an AED can stop irregular heartbeats (arrhythmias) and allow normal heart rhythms to resume after sudden cardiac arrest (SCA). SCA occurs when the heart suddenly and unexpectedly stops beating. If not treated immediately, SCA can quickly lead to death.

Most AEDs provide easy-to-follow audio and visual instructions so that untrained bystanders can quickly offer assistance to an individual suffering from cardiac arrest. Some AEDs advise the user when to administer the shock, while other AEDs may automatically apply a shock if the heart is arrhythmic. Many AEDs also offer step-by-step cardio-pulmonary resuscitation (CPR) instruction and real-time CPR feedback.

Why Are AEDs Important?

More than 350,000 Americans suffer from out-of-hospital cardiac arrests each year. Taken a step further, about 90% of the people who experience cardiac arrest outside of a hospital will die (The American Heart Association).

Occupational Safety and Health Administration reports that waiting for emergency medical personnel to arrive results in only a 5-7% survival rate, while studies with immediate defibrillation have shown up to a 60% survival rate one year after a sudden cardiac arrest. 

Simply put: AEDs save lives.

On-site AEDs and publicly accessible AEDs save valuable treatment time and can dramatically improve survival odds because they can be used well before emergency medical personnel arrive. 

Are AEDs Safe to Use?

AEDs are safe and can be used by anyone. Modern AEDs are battery-operated, compact, light, and portable. Because safeguards are programmed into each unit, you do not have to worry about shocking a victim who has a normal heartbeat.

Who Can Use an AED?

Anyone can use an AED. AEDs have a proven record of helping save lives at home, in the workplace, and in public areas such as airports, community centers, schools, senior centers, cultural institutions, and churches.  

Most AEDs are designed to be used by non-medical personnel. Although training isn’t necessary to operate an AED, having more people in your community who are trained to respond to a medical emergency by providing CPR and defibrillation will increase confidence, promote SCA awareness, and bolster cardiac arrest survival rates.

Where should AEDs be Placed?

AEDs should be easy to access and placed in a visible location. Check out our post, Finding the Best Location for Your AED.

What can you do to improve SCA survival rates? Invest in an AED for your home or office, make sure your schools and sporting venues are equipped with AEDs, and make sure that AEDs are available and are easily accessible throughout your community. Ready to take the plunge? Contact Cardio Partners, we’ll help you figure out which AED is right for you

For more information about purchasing a new or recertified AED or to schedule an AED training or AED maintenance, contact Cardio Partners at 866-349-4362. We also welcome your emails, you can reach us at customerservice@cardiopartners.com.

DISCLAIMER: Information and resources found on the cardiopartners.com and aed.com websites/blogs are intended to educate, inform, and motivate readers to make their health and wellness decisions after consulting with their healthcare provider. The authors are not healthcare providers. NO information on this site should be used to diagnose, treat, prevent, or cure any disease or condition.

Top 10 Questions About AEDs

Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About AEDs

1. What is an AED?

AED stands for Automated External Defibrillator.

2. What Does an AED Do?

An AED is a portable device that delivers a life-saving shock to a heart that is experiencing fibrillation. An AED automatically analyzes and measure an unresponsive person’s heart rhythm. If the heart is experiencing fibrillation and a shock is deemed necessary, an AED will deliver a shock to restart the heart or to restore the heart to the correct rhythm. The AED will first analyze the victim’s heart rhythm, and then audio or text prompts will tell the rescuer how to proceed. If defibrillation is necessary, the device will warn responders to stay clear of the victim while the shock is delivered. If CPR is indicated, the AED will instruct the rescuer to continue performing CPR.

For more information about how an AED works, check out our post, (Almost) Everything You Need to Know About CPR and AEDs.

3. What is Defibrillation?

Believe it or not, defibrillation was discovered at the University of Geneva in 1899 by physiologists Jean-Louis Prevost and Frédéric Batelli. Ventricular fibrillation is a condition that occurs when the heart beats rapidly and erratically. The History of Defibrillation, Defibrillators, and Portable AEDs is a must-read if you’re as fascinated by the subject as we are.

4. Do I Really Need an AED?

Six Shocking Statistics About Sudden Cardiac Arrest and AEDs answers this question pretty thoroughly, but 68.5% of the 456,000 out-of-hospital cardiac arrests occur at home. In other words, if you have an AED, the life you save will likely be that of a loved one.

5. Do I Need to Have Special Training to Use an AED?

Nope. While we encourage everyone to gain the confidence they need through CPR, First Aid, and AED certification courses, multilingual voice and text prompts ensure that everyone can become a lifesaver.

6. Can I Harm Someone By Using an AED?

An AED is designed to be used on someone who is experiencing cardiac arrest. It may be an individual’s best chance at survival. Thanks to built-in sensors and safety features, AEDs will not deliver unnecessary shocks.

7. Can I Use an AED on an Infant?

Yes, it’s safe to use an AED on infants and children. Although AEDs are manufactured with adults in mind, most AEDs come equipped with pediatric settings and/or pediatric pads that adjust the energy level used. These settings make them safe for use on young children who weigh less than 55 pounds. The American Heart Association recommends that pediatric attenuated pads should be used on children under the age of eight and on infants. Adult pads are used on children eight years and older. However, if pediatric pads and settings are not available, the American Red Cross suggests that an AED with adult pads should be used.

8. Can an AED be Used on a Pregnant Woman? 

Cardiac arrest can happen to anyone at any time. If a pregnant woman goes into cardiac arrest, call 911 and tell the operator that the victim is pregnant. This will help alert EMS providers so they’re prepared upon arrival and can transport the woman to a hospital that can perform an emergency C-section, if necessary.

Next, start CPR with chest compressions as you would for an individual who is not pregnant. It is vitally important to keep blood and oxygen moving throughout the body. According to the American Heart Association, it is safe to use an AED if one is available.

9. Do AEDs Expire?

Although AEDs don’t expire, batteries and pads do. The importance of AED preventative maintenance and service cannot be overstated. We recommend AED owners invest in both preventative maintenance and compliance management programs to ensure their AEDs are fully operational and in compliance with local laws.

10. Where’s the Best Place to Keep My AED?

If you own an AED it needs to be publicly accessible and in plain sight. An AED can’t save a life if it can’t be found. For more information, read our AED placement guide: Finding the Best Location for Your AED

Ready to schedule CPR and AED training for your team? Or perhaps it’s time to invest in LifeShield AED Compliance Management to ensure that your AED is good to go. For AED solutions, visit AED.com or call Cardio Partners at 866-349-4362. You can also email us at customerservice@cardiopartners.com.

DISCLAIMER: The information included in this post and on our website is not intended as legal advice. As legislation changes often, this post may inadvertently contain inaccurate or incomplete information. We urge you to contact your state representative should you require more information about current AED, CPR, and Good Samaritan laws in your state.

DISCLAIMER: Information and resources found on the cardiopartners.com and aed.com websites/blogs are intended to educate, inform, and motivate readers to make their health and wellness decisions after consulting with their healthcare provider. The authors are not healthcare providers. NO information on this site should be used to diagnose, treat, prevent, or cure any disease or condition.

Heatstroke and Sudden Cardiac Arrest

Heatstroke is no joke. Despite the fact that all heat-related deaths and illnesses are preventable, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) estimates that about 658 people succumb to extreme heat each year. 

Sudden death — or sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) — can be brought on by a number of different causes including congenital heart defects, cardiac arrhythmia, commotio cordis, hypovolemic shock, and even electrolyte imbalances brought on by hyperthermia (heat stroke). 

Since we’re knee-deep in summer, we thought it was a good time to talk about heatstroke, its connection to SCA, and how to avoid it.

What Causes Heatstroke?

Heat-related illnesses are caused by exposure to too much sunlight and heat. When your body can’t cool itself adequately, you may start to feel over-hot, headachy, clammy, heavy, tired, dizzy, and nauseated. Your heart rate may increase as well. If this happens, it’s time to stop whatever it is you’re doing and find some water, shade, or air conditioning! 

Exposure to excessive heat can directly or indirectly cause some illnesses, and can certainly exacerbate preexisting conditions, such as heart and respiratory disease.

How Can You Prevent Heatstroke and Heat-Related Illnesses?

The CDC notes that “People at greatest risk for heat-related illness include infants and children up to 4 years old; people 65 years of age and older; people who are overweight or have existing medical conditions, such as diabetes and heart disease; people who are socially isolated; and the poor.” 

However, even young and seemingly healthy individuals can suffer from heat exhaustion or heat stroke if they’re engaging in strenuous physical activities during hot weather. Drinking alcohol, taking certain medications, or excessive exposure can put people at an even greater risk. 

Basically, anything that causes dehydration and inhibits perspiration or otherwise impairs your body’s ability to regulate its internal temperature can put you at risk of heatstroke. 

Here’s what you can do to stay cool:

  • Stay loose: Wear comfortable, lightweight, and light-colored clothing.
  • Put a lid on it: Protect your brain! Wear a hat or invest in a reflective umbrella.
  • Avoidance is okay: When the temperatures start to soar, stay out of the sunshine.
  • Exercise early: If you need to get a move on — and everyone should aim for 150 minutes of moderate activity each week — do it before 9:00 am or after 4:00 pm.
  • Drink up: If you are exercising in the heat, drink plenty of electrolyte-enriched water and take frequent breaks.
  • Get acclimated: If you work outside or you’re on a beach vacation, let your body acclimate to the heat before doing anything strenuous.
  • Circulation is your friend: If you don’t have air conditioning, be sure to use fans to keep air flowing in your home.
  • Slather on the sunscreen: Sunburn limits your body’s ability to keep itself cool. So even if it looks uncool, keep applying sunscreen.
  • Be a good neighbor: Check-in on folks who might be at a higher risk for heat-related illnesses such as elderly, disabled, or house-bound individuals.

Why are Electrolytes so Important?

Calcium, sodium, and potassium are the most important electrolytes in your body. “Calcium and potassium have to be in balance—sitting on either side of cell membranes, ready to switch places—in order to cause muscles to contract or nerves to transmit impulses. Once calcium and potassium swap places and cause things to happen, sodium puts them back in their place for the next time. If there aren’t enough of one or two or all of these electrolytes, then the heart muscle cells can’t move, which means the heart won’t pump,” (VeryWell Health).

And here’s what the American Heart Association has to say about electrolytes: “Electrolyte abnormalities are commonly associated with cardiovascular emergencies. These abnormalities may cause or contribute to cardiac arrest and may hinder resuscitative efforts.” 

Cardiac arrest brought on by heatstroke is 100% avoidable! Listen to your body, and before you head out into the sun, whip up a batch of homemade lemon-ginger electrolyte drink!

For more information on sudden cardiac arrest, AEDs, and CPR and AED Training, search our blog archives or call Cardio Partners at 866-349-4362. You can also email us at customerservice@cardiopartners.com.

DISCLAIMER: Information and resources found on the cardiopartners.com and aed.com websites/blogs are intended to educate, inform, and motivate readers to make their health and wellness decisions after consulting with their healthcare provider. The authors are not healthcare providers. NO information on this site should be used to diagnose, treat, prevent, or cure any disease or condition.