How Does An AED Work?

A bright green ZOLL AED with its carry case, batteries, and electrodes

All You Need To Know About Automatic External Defibrillators


How Does An AED Work?

How does an automated external defibrillator (AED) Work? How would you like to be able to save a person's life by using a defibrillator and save them from sudden cardiac arrest (SCA)? You can. This can happen by learning how an AED works.

If you have never heard of an AED you may not know everything that they are capable of. It is important to know what to expect if you ever run into one of these devices, because the right person in the right place can save a life.

An AED is a device used to restore the normal rhythm of the heartbeat. The heart has 4 structural parts to its electrical system, and each part requires specific electrical signals to be sent in order for the heart to beat effectively. When a heart goes into sudden cardiac arrest (SCA), this is life-threatening arrhythmia. AEDs use an algorithm via multifunction defibrillation electrode pads to determine if the heart needs shock treatment or not.

Keep reading to learn more about what exactly is happening when someone is experiencing sudden cardiac arrest..


What Happens During Sudden Cardiac Arrest?

Sudden cardiac arrest is a condition in which the heart suddenly and unexpectedly stops beating. This can happen because of a problem with its electrical system, called ventricular fibrillation (VF). It causes blood to stop flowing to vital organs – including the brain, lungs and other body parts – which in turn leads to death within minutes unless a defibrillator is used.

The signs and symptoms of SCA can vary widely depending on the severity of the electrical disturbance in the heart. Some people with SCA have no warning, while others have heart palpitations (awareness of skipped or extra heart beats) or chest pain. Victims of sudden cardiac arrest may show some or all of the following outward symptoms:

  1. Collapsing and loss of consciousness;

  2. Completely unresponsive no sound or other stimuli;

  3. No breathing or abnormal breathing; and

  4. No pulse.

Ultimately, SCA happens in the blink of an eye. That’s why it’s crucial to know the warning signs of SCA and what to do to respond. If you learn only one thing from this piece, learn this: if someone near you is experiencing these symptoms, call 911 immediately. Don’t waste precious time debating on whether or not this person is having a heart attack—calling 911 is the first step in saving a life.


Does An AED Stop Or Start The Heart?

During sudden cardiac arrest the electrical impulses that normally make the heart contract are disturbed. This causes the lower chambers of the heart to beat out of rhythm, or irregularly. This is also known as VF. The first medical emergency care step in treating a person who has experienced sudden cardiac arrest (ventricular fibrillation) is to administer an electric shock with an AED.

A defibrillation of the heart is known as defibrillation shock therapy. This shock depolarizes the heart muscle thoroughly by transferring an electric current from the defibrillation paddles through the chest wall, and into the heart-lung tissue. Shock depolarization works to overcome the abnormal rhythm of ventricular fibrillation by forcing normal pacemaker activity within the ventricles and restoring blood circulation to vital organs throughout the body. Essentially, a defibrillator doesn’t work towards stopping or starting a heart, it works to restore the heart’s normal rhythm.


Are AEDs Complicated To Use?

Are AEDs complicated to use? – The truth is that they are simple to use, self-operating, and come with clear instructions. Similar to a GPS system, they were designed to be self-directing and will give you verbal step-by-step instructions, providing life-saving medical treatment when it is needed the most. In fact, AEDs are not just for use by highly trained or medical personnel. Anyone can use an AED and anyone can buy an AED for their own home or organization such as a gym or office building. Visit AED Advantage and learn more today!

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