Frequently Asked Questions

ANSWERS HERE

Ventricular fibrillation is the fatal rhythm that causes sudden cardiac arrest. The heart instantly goes from a normal heart rhythm to a chaotic rhythm called ventricular fibrillation. When the heart goes into VF, the pulse and blood pressure is instantly lost and the person loses consciousness in a few seconds. The only effective treatment is an electric shock across the chest and through the heart. A shock, if delivered in time, can convert the fatal rhythm of VF back to a normal heart rhythm. An AED is a device that automatically analyses the heart’s rhythm and can deliver a shock if VF is present
Ventricular fibrillation is the fatal rhythm that causes sudden cardiac arrest. The heart instantly goes from a normal heart rhythm to a chaotic rhythm called ventricular fibrillation. When the heart goes into VF, the pulse and blood pressure is instantly lost and the person loses consciousness in a few seconds. The only effective treatment is an electric shock across the chest and through the heart. A shock, if delivered in time, can convert the fatal rhythm of VF back to a normal heart rhythm. An AED is a device that automatically analyses the heart’s rhythm and can deliver a shock if VF is present
CPR cannot convert VF into a normal rhythm (only an electric shock can do this) but CPR can circulate a small trickle of oxygenated blood to vital organ and thus slow the dying process until an AED arrives. Thus CPR buys time until the AED arrives to deliver a shock.
The sooner the better. The chances of a successful defibrillation using an AED falls by about 7% to 10% with each passing minute.
Clearly if there are two witnesses to the cardiac arrest, one should call 911 while the other retrieves and attaches the AED. If there is only one rescuer, that person should call 911 in order to get EMS personnel responding to the scene. It is worth the extra minute to get help on the way. The emergency operator can also remind you how to use the device and even coach you through CPR if you forgot. Even if you are successful with the AED, EMS personnel will have to administer medications (to prevent a relapse into VF) and administer oxygen or even place a breathing tube down the person’s windpipe.
Only people at risk of sudden cardiac arrest need an AED. You should discuss your risk with your physician and together decide if your risk is high enough to justify the cost of an AED. One manufacturer is authorized to sell an AED without a prescription but the other manufacturers require a prescription. The manufacturers that require a prescription can help facilitate your obtaining a prescription if you do not have one from your physician.
Probably not. If your have a very specific risk of sudden cardiac arrest and it can be supported by your physician, your medical insurance company may cover the cost.
One manufacturer is authorized to see its AED over the counter. All the others require that you obtain a prescription. The manufacturers that require prescriptions can assist you in obtaining one.
The devices vary somewhat but in general once the pads are attached, the device takes 5-10 seconds to analyze the heart’s rhythm and another few seconds to charge itself up.
Yes, so long as you use it properly.
Currently AEDs sell for $1200 to $3000.
It varies by device but in general batteries last 4-5 years.
It varies by device but in general they are good for 2-3 years.
The first AED was invented by a Portland, Oregon surgeon, Arch Diack around 1980.
Not every cardiac arrest is caused by VF. Approximately one third of the time the heart will not be in VF and therefore the AED will not deliver a shock. In this case it will advise the rescuer to check the patient and begin CPR.
Probably nothing. You may feel a slight tingle. Try to not touch the person when the shock is delivered. If you should have latex gloves available, this should also protect you even if you are touching the patients chest at the moment of shock.
Try to dry the chest with a towel before applying the pads. Defibrillation is most safely performed on a dry surface. The risks to rescuers and bystanders associated with defibrillating on a wet surface have to be balanced against the risk to the patient of delaying defibrillation. If the patient cannot be safely and quickly moved to a dry surface, as far as possible all bystanders should move off the wet surface. Anyone that must be on the wet surface should avoid direct contact with the patient, and should avoid contact between their body – particularly above their waist – and the wet surface, as far as possible. Wearing latex gloves will also reduce the likelihood of the rescuer being shocked in the event the rescuer is touching the patient at the moment of defibrillation.
You might keep a disposable shaver with the AED just for this purpose.
Not likely. The AED is designed to only shock VF. It will not shock any other heart rhythm. Nevertheless, AEDs are not perfect and in 1% of cases it may shock a rhythm other than VF. That’s why it should only be attached to a person who is unconscious and has collapsed
Ignore the presence of the pacemaker.
The AED is not needed for someone who has an implanted defibrillator. However, if the implanted defibrillator is not firing, you can consider attaching an AED (it is possible the implanted defibrillator is not working properly). The AED will not harm the implanted defibrillator.
That’s great. Unless the person tries to sit up, place the victim on his or her side so saliva can drain out without blocking the airway
Some devices say “shock delivered” but you will also know because you will see the chest’s muscular twitch in response to the electric shock.
As close as possible. When the pads are in the incorrect location the shock is less effective.
Lift the bra up over the breasts and let it bunch up around the neck, then attach the pads.
No. Many factors such as whether the collapse was witnessed, the heart’s rhythm, and the underlying condition of the victim determine whether the victim lives or dies.
Content provided by The University of Washington