Automated External Defibrillators

What is an AED?

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Defibrillators are battery-powered devices that restore the heart to a normal rhythm via an electrical shock to the heart. Defibrillators can do two things: 

  1. Prevent or correct an arrhythmia (a heartbeat that is uneven, too rapid or too slow). 

  2. Restart a heart that has stopped. 

AED's (automated external defibrillators) were designed to be used by untrained bystanders when someone in the vicinity experiences a sudden cardiac arrest. These are very easy to use walk the user through every single step. As you see in the image to the left, these devices come in a variety of shapes in sizes. However, regardless of the size, price or color they all work the exact same way. 

How does an AED work?

Once the AED is turned on, sticky pads with sensors, called electrodes are placed at two different places on the patient's bare chest. The electrodes then analyze the patient's heart to look for an arrhythmia that can be fixed. If the computer finds that "bad rhythm" the AED then delivers a shock to the patient's heart, hopefully restoring it to a normal rhythm. 

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Learn more about defibrillators here. There are also devices that can be implanted in a person's chest if they are at high risk for arrhythmias. 

The AED in Action

This video is actual footage of someone suffering a sudden cardiac arrest. This shows how effective the AED can be and how it can save a life. 

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