AEDs and Cardiac Arrest: What You Need to Know

AEDs and Cardiac Arrest: What You Need to Know

We’ll be breaking down AEDs and Cardiac Arrest: What You Need to Know. According to the latest statistics, in the United States, there are more than 350.000 cardiac arrest cases across the country. On the other hand, the number of in-hospital cardiac arrests has reached 300.000 a year.

However, some procedures and devices can be lifesaving if performed on time and with the right skills and precautions. Namely, the main technique in these cases is CPR, while the lifesaving device is called AED or Automated External Defibrillator.

These portable electronic devices have multiple functions, but the primary use of AEDs is to diagnose life-threatening arrhythmias and deliver an electric shock to the chest and the heart. As can be seen, AEDs and cardiac arrest are tightly connected.

In this article, we’ll dive deeply into that relationship and see more about the treatment of a heart attack and cardiac arrest with AEDs.

AED: Essential Device For Treating Cardiac Arrest

One statistic showed that without the use of AEDs by bystanders, the chances of the person who has suffered a cardiac arrest surviving are 30%. It means that the persons suffering a cardiac arrest have much greater survival chances if they get a publicly-available AED therapy.

The automated external defibrillator is crucial for increasing the survival rate and the possibility of discharging patients from hospitals who suffered cardiac arrest. The American Heart Association (AHA) states that the survival rate of patients who suffered a sudden heart attack and got a publicly-available AED is 66.3%.

The logic behind AED usage for heart attacks is that it uses an electrical shock, i.e., causes defibrillation, to reestablish the effective heart rhythm. Moreover, you can use the device to analyze the heart rhythm and get insight if an electrical shock is necessary.

The AED device is simple to use, and you can master it by enrolling in a CPR training class or finding an official AED course available throughout the country. Numerous training centers and organizations provide these courses, which are affordable, accessible, and wide-ranging.

Nonetheless, here is a break down of AEDs and Cardiac Arrest: What You Need to Know:

      • When to use AED and when to avoid it;

      • What to avoid while administering shocks and heart rhythm analysis;

      • How to properly analyze the symptoms and the heartbeat;

      • When to switch from CPR to using an AED;

      • How to use an AED on different age groups;

      • How to properly use various AED devices.

    AED and Cardiac Arrest: What to Avoid

    Even though the automated external defibrillator can save the life of a heart attack or cardiac arrest victim, experts don’t advise its usage in all situations. There are numerous cardiac arrest emergencies when you should avoid using an AED.

    For example, if a person is lying on a conductive surface, you should avoid administering an AED shock. Conductive surfaces, like metal bleachers or sheet metals, can transfer the electrical shock to other bystanders.

    Furthermore, you shouldn’t administer AED shocks to children under eight years or 90 pounds. The main reason is that AED devices sometimes don’t have the settings and capability to adjust for infants or children.

    Following are some additional tips on what to avoid when using an AED device in cardiac arrest victims:

        • You shouldn’t use an AED when moving or in a moving vehicle;

        • You shouldn’t use an AED on a person who is in contact with water;

        • You shouldn’t use an AED around flammable materials (gasoline, oxygen, etc.);

        • You shouldn’t touch the person while defibrillating;

        • You shouldn’t use alcohol to clean the victim’s chest;

        • You shouldn’t touch the person while the device is analyzing the heart rhythm.

      AED and Cardiac Arrest: How To Properly Use it

      Organizations like the American Red Cross and the American Heart Association regularly publish guidelines on performing a high-quality AED. Note that these guidelines and recommendations can change over the years.

      However, the basic steps of administering an AED remain the same. Here’s what you’ll need to know before using an AED on a cardiac arrest victim:

          1. Check the scene and ensure that the victim needs the usage of an AED.

          1. See if there’s a publicly-available AED.

          1. Immediately call the emergency services.

          1. Remove the clothes and attach the pads properly.

          1. If necessary, plug in the AED pad connector.

          1. Start analyzing the heart’s rhythm.

          1. Deliver a shock.

          1. Start performing cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR).

        Analyze The Scene

        Before administering AED shocks, make sure that the victim meets the conditions for defibrillation. First off, make sure that CPR and AED are truly necessary. For example, you can notice that a person has suffered a cardiac arrest through a sudden collapse, losing consciousness, no breathing, no heartbeat, etc.

        Once you’re sure that the person has suffered a cardiac arrest, see if they’re flammable materials around or if the person has been in touch with water or lays on a conductive surface. If not, start the AED analysis. It might be necessary to wipe dry the victim’s chest before attaching the pads; however, don’t use alcohol for this step.

        To properly analyze the heartbeat, you should attach one pad to the upper right side of the chest and the other to the lower left side. The device will tell you whether the person needs a shock or not. The process is the same for bystanders with a publicly-available AED at hand, health care providers, and medical workers. This is the first and a very important step of AEDs and cardiac arrest and what you need to know.

        Immediately Call The Emergency Services

        When you encounter a cardiac arrest emergency, immediately call the emergency services – a recommendation by the American Red Cross and the American Heart Association. The automated external defibrillator can save a life, but the victim needs additional care after it. That is why the emergency services must arrive on time and administer proper care to the heart attack or cardiac arrest victim.

        If you’re a bystander, before using the AED, call 911 and proceed to analyze and perform electrical shocks. In most cases, the shocks will only prolong the normal heart rhythm until the more experienced people arrive at the scene.

        Proper Shock Deliverance

        There are also some rules for delivering electrical shocks. For instance, you should administer an electric shock only after the device has told you to do so. However, you should know that there are two types of AEDs, distinguishable in the way they deliver the shocks:

            • Fully automated – If you use this type of AED, it will charge by itself and advise you to stand back. The fully automated defibrillator will automatically perform the shock without the need for you to press any buttons.

            • Semi-automated – There’s also the semi-automated AED. In this case, you’d have to push the button yourself (which will start flashing when the device is ready) and deliver the shock.

          In the end, when you deliver a shock, beware that nobody touches the person or stands nearby. Additionally, the AED shocks you perform on adults should range between 120 and 300 joules.

          On the other hand, AHA’s guidelines advise that defibrillation in children should follow one simple rule: 2 J per kg and up to 4 J per kg. The AHA recommends that if the first two shocks are unsuccessful, you shouldn’t raise them above the escalated 4 J per Kg. The devices are usually adjusted that way.

          CPR and AED: What’s Their Relation?

          In almost all cases, CPR and AED follow one another. All experts advise you to perform CPR after you administer the shocks if an AED is available. If it’s not or the AED analysis tells you not to perform defibrillation, you should immediately give CPR on the cardiac arrest victim.

          These two techniques are different in their approach but equally important in saving the lives of persons who suffered a cardiac arrest or heart attack. The main difference is that an automated external defibrillator restores the proper heart rhythm by using electrical shocks, while the CPR procedure uses manual pressure.

          In general, relevant institutions and organizations recommend that you combine these two to ensure a higher survival rate.

          Final Thoughts: AEDs and Cardiac Arrest: What You Need to Know

          It doesn’t matter if you want to be a successful emergency worker or just a responsible citizen – AED is a lifesaving device for cardiac arrest victims. It’s easy to use and can restore the heart rhythm in patients.

          It significantly increases the survival rates, especially when combined with CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation). Nonetheless, there are differences for various emergencies, age groups, device types, and more.

          So if you want to make sure that you know when and how to properly use AEDs on a cardiac arrest victim, there are courses from relevant institutions that will teach you the main guidelines and recommendations. This should help you understand AEDs and Cardiac Arrest: What You Need to Know.