A medical emergency like cardiac arrest calls for prompt care. AEDs are portable devices that can assess a person’s cardiac rhythm and, if necessary, provide an electrical shock to return it to normal. However, the use of AEDs can be complicated, especially for first-time users.
In this article, we will explore the crucial role that AEDs play in treating cardiac arrest and provide helpful tips on how to use them effectively.
Definition of AED and Its Importance in Cardiac Arrest
In the case of a sudden cardiac arrest, an automated external defibrillator (AED) uses electricity to shock the heart back into rhythm.
The longer a person goes without defibrillation, the lower their chances of survival, with an estimated 10% decrease for every minute. AEDs can improve the chances by promptly delivering a shock to the heart to restore normal rhythm.
If a shock is necessary, the AED will provide it by sending a carefully calibrated electric shock to the heart through electrodes placed on the person’s chest. The AED device also provides auditory cues when and if defibrillation is needed. Some AED devices have a built-in metronome of auditory cues for counting the compression rates, making it easier to stay on beat when providing CPR.
What Happens During a Cardiac Arrest?
A cardiac arrest happens when the heart suddenly stops pumping and breathing stops. In cases where the heart ceases to beat, blood flow to critical organs such as the brain is interrupted. If not treated promptly, cardiac arrest can result in brain damage or death in minutes.
Causes of Cardiac Arrest
The leading cause of cardiac arrest is arrhythmias or abnormal heart rhythms. Trauma, severe bleeding, drowning, electrocution, and drug abuse can all result in cardiac arrest. In some cases, there may be no apparent cause for cardiac arrest.
It’s important to note that cardiac arrest shouldn’t be confused with a heart attack, which is an obstruction of blood flow in a coronary artery. A cardiac arrest requires the use of CPR and AEDs, which aren’t needed in the case of a heart attack.
Symptoms of cardiac arrest
Cardiac arrest can occur suddenly with no warning indications, but it can also occur with symptoms and recognizing them early is very important. The following are some of the most prevalent signs of cardiac arrest:
- Sudden loss of consciousness or fainting
- No breathing or difficulty breathing
- No pulse or weak pulse
- Chest pain, discomfort, or pressure
- Nausea or vomiting
- Sudden onset of dizziness or lightheadedness
- Sweating or pale skin
If someone is experiencing any of the above symptoms, especially chest pain or sudden loss of consciousness, it’s important to call for emergency medical help immediately. Early detection and treatment can enhance survival chances.
Immediate actions during a cardiac arrest
It’s important to remember that not everyone with cardiac arrest displays any prior symptoms or warning indications. Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and defibrillation are two early interventions that can increase a patient’s probability of survival and lower their risk of developing long-term problems. However, before performing CPR or using an AED, it’s important to call 911.
Types of AEDs
In the world of emergency medicine, automated external defibrillators (AEDs) are essential tools used to deliver life-saving treatment during cardiac arrest. There are two main types of AEDs – fully automatic and semi-automatic – each with its own unique features and benefits. Understanding the differences between these types can be critical in selecting the most appropriate AED for a given situation.
Fully Automatic AED
A fully automated external defibrillator (AED) is designed to analyze the heart’s rhythm and administer a shock without any need for user intervention. When a fully automatic AED detects a shockable rhythm, it will automatically charge and deliver a shock.
The advantage of a fully automatic AED is that it reduces the risk of user error, as the device takes complete control of the shock delivery process.
However, it’s important to note that CPR should still be initiated as soon as possible, even with a fully automatic AED. While the AED is charged, the rescuer should start administering chest compressions to keep the blood flowing.
A semi-automatic external defibrillator (AED) requires the operator to press a button after the device has analyzed the heart’s rhythm before delivering a shock. When a semi-automatic AED detects a shockable rhythm, it will prompt the user to press a button to deliver a shock.
The good side of a semi-automatic AED is that it allows the user to control the delivery of the shock. This can be helpful in situations where there may be interference from other electronic devices or if the victim is wet or in a pool of water.
Precautions before Using AED
Before using an AED (automated external defibrillator), it’s important to take the following precautions:
- Make sure the space surrounding the individual is safe and clear of any risks that might endanger you or the patient.
- Tap on the person’s shoulder and call their name to see whether they are receptive. If they do not respond, call for emergency medical services (EMS) immediately.
- Confirm that the person is experiencing cardiac arrest, which is a sudden loss of consciousness and a lack of breathing or normal breathing.
- Before using the AED, make sure that the person’s chest is dry and that no metal is touching their skin, such as jewelry or piercings. Also, if the person has any medication patches on their chest, remove them before using the AED.
- Before giving a shock, make sure no one touches the individual or any surfaces they may come into contact with.
By taking these precautions, you can ensure that you are using the AED safely and effectively in an emergency situation.
Step-by-step Guide for Using AED
Here is a step-by-step guide for using an AED (automated external defibrillator):
- Press the power button on the AED. The device will initiate voice or visual instructions to assist you in the procedure.
- Take off any clothes or jewelry from the individual’s chest. If there are medication patches or any other foreign objects on the chest, remove them as well.
- Place the electrode pads onto the individual’s exposed chest, following the positioning guidelines provided by the AED.
- Once the electrode pads are inserted, the AED will begin to examine the person’s cardiac rhythm. It is crucial to ensure that no one comes into contact with the individual or the AED during this process.
- If the AED determines that a shock is required, it will prompt you to deliver it. Follow the AED’s instructions for delivering the shock. Throughout this process, make sure no one touches the individual or the AED.
- If the AED doesn’t identify a shockable beat, it will instruct you to start CPR. Follow the AED’s instructions for performing CPR, including the rate and depth of compressions.
- The AED will continue to deliver voice or visual cues to aid you through the process. Keep following the AED’s instructions until emergency medical services (EMS) arrives.
Remember that if you are not qualified to use an AED or do CPR, the 911 operators can guide you through the process while the EMTs arrive on the scene. It’s important to regularly refresh your knowledge and skills to ensure that you can respond effectively in an emergency situation.
Benefits of AED in Cardiac Arrest
There are several advantages to using an automated external defibrillator (AED) during a cardiac arrest, including:
- Improved survival rate: Early defibrillation, within the first few minutes of a cardiac arrest, is critical to survival. The usage of an AED can potentially increase an individual’s survival rate by as much as 70%.
- Easy to use: AEDs are user-friendly, with simple voice and visual instructions guiding users through the process of administering a shock and conducting CPR.
- Reduced response time: AEDs can be quickly accessed and deployed in public spaces, such as airports, sports arenas, and shopping centers, reducing the time it takes for emergency medical services (EMS) to arrive and increasing the chance of survival.
- Increased availability: The widespread availability of AEDs means that they can be used in a variety of settings, from public places to workplaces and homes.
- Reduced risk of brain damage: The use of an AED, combined with prompt CPR, can help reduce the risk of brain damage that can occur due to a lack of oxygen during a cardiac arrest.
- Cost-effective: The use of AEDs is cost-effective, as it can reduce the cost of hospitalization and long-term care for cardiac arrest survivors.
Importance of AED in Cardiac Arrest
The availability of AEDs in public spaces and their user-friendly design can make a real difference in saving lives, and it’s heartening to know that with the right knowledge and skills, anyone can learn how to use them. It’s crucial to have access to AEDs, which can provide guidance and feedback to help ensure that they are used correctly.
It’s also important to remember that learning about AED usage is not only a valuable skill but an act of compassion and concern for others.
Conclusion and Final Thoughts on AED Usage
In conclusion, by familiarizing ourselves with AEDs, we can save lives in emergencies where every second counts. It’s essential to understand that AEDs are designed to be user-friendly and easily accessible, meaning that anyone can learn how to use them effectively.
With AEDs becoming more widely available in public spaces, there has never been a better time to learn how to use them. By taking the time to learn about AEDs, we can become better equipped to make a positive impact and help increase the chances of survival in cases of cardiac arrest.