Here at the defibshop, we find there is a lot of speculation surrounding cardiac arrest, AEDs and general heart health. This is why we've provided some helpful information below, to hopefully answer some of the questions you may have when considering the investment of an AED.
If you can't find your questions or have additional queries you'd like to discuss, please fill out our contact form and a helpful member of our team will be in touch as soon as possible! If you'd like a more in-depth guide to finding the right AED for you, why not take a look at our free downloadable Buyers Guide?
What is an AED?
An AED stands for Automated External Defibrillator and is a small, lightweight device which analyzes a person’s heart rhythm and can recognize irregular rhythms such as ventricular fibrillation (VF) or ventricular tachycardia (VT), also known as Sudden Cardiac Arrest.
AEDs have been designed to be used by anyone to help victims of cardiac arrest by sending a shock to the heart to help it restart again in a regular rhythm.
What is Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA)?
A Sudden Cardiac Arrest or SCA is a condition caused by an electrical malfunction in the heart which prevents blood from pumping around the body.
When this happens, the heart experiences “fibrillation”, an electrical chaos that begins in the heart resulting in an uncontrolled quivering of the heart chambers. This will cause the victim to collapse unconscious and will die if no treatment is provided.
There are many things which can cause a cardiac arrest including heart attack, excessive strain on the heart or a complication from a previously undiagnosed heart condition. It is a fact that cardiac arrest can affect everyone and anyone regardless of age, health or gender with no prior symptoms.
Are Sudden Cardiac Arrest and a Heart Attack the same thing?
No! We often hear this mistake being made in the news and in articles, but these two conditions are in fact completely different and are caused by different factors.
Most heart attacks are caused by Coronary Heart Disease which causes a blockage in the main artery that supplies blood to the heart. A blockage is caused by a gradual build-up of fatty material in the walls of the artery and is usually the result of an unhealthy lifestyle. This blockage leads to the forming of a blood clot and will eventually starve the heart of blood and oxygen, causing damage to the tissue in the heart.
Whilst cardiac arrest and heart attack are two different things, suffering a heart attack can often lead to sudden cardiac arrest which is why it’s incredibly important to live a healthy lifestyle by exercising regularly, not smoking and eating a well-balanced diet.
Why are defibrillators important?
As THE ONLY treatment for a victim suffering cardiac arrest, defibrillators and effective CPR are vital to give the casualty the best chances of survival possible.
When a victim is in cardiac arrest, their heart cannot beat in a regular rhythm and experiences irregular rhythms such as ventricular fibrillation (VF) and ventricular tachycardia (VT) and cannot pump blood around the body to the vital organs. A defibrillator will deliver an electrical shock to stop the irregular rhythm and encourage the heart’s natural pacemaker to restart the natural rhythm.
Every minute a victim spends in cardiac arrest decreases their chances of survival by 10%, which means CPR and defibrillation must be delivered immediately for the best chance of resuscitating the victim.
Who can use an AED?
Do you want to know the best thing about AEDs? Almost anyone can use one!
Thanks to the visual and vocal prompts which are built-in to every device, anyone using the defibrillator will receive step-by-step guidance to ensure they deliver the most effective rescue possible.
You’ll be instructed to place the electrode pads on to the patient, following the diagrams provided for effective placement. From here, the AED will analyse the casualty’s heart rhythm and will instruct you when and if CPR is required. Many AEDs come with a function which will provide CPR feedback so you know your compression delivery is effective, others provide a metronome which will help you keep in time as you deliver CPR.
Will an AED always resuscitate someone in cardiac arrest?
Sadly no, an AED will only treat a victim experiencing a VF or VT heart rhythm if these rhythms are not present; the casualty will need to receive CPR and medication administered by paramedics or medical professionals instead.
If a shockable rhythm IS present, CPR must be delivered immediately to help maintain it and to keep oxygen circulating around the body to the vital organs. Immediate and high-quality CPR will help to achieve a more successful defibrillation and regain a regular heart rhythm.
The most effective CPR will be delivered in a ratio of 30 chest compressions to 2 rescue breaths. This cycle should be repeated until either an AED or medical attention arrives.
Do I still call 911 even if I have an AED?
Yes! While CPR and defibrillation are the only treatment for Sudden Cardiac Arrest, a casualty will still need medical attention following the incident as well as oxygen and cardiac drugs.
The average response time to a 911 call in the USA in a medical emergency is 12-15 minutes and with a casualty’s chances of survival decreasing by 10% with every passing minute, bystander action is essential to give the victim the best chances of survival.
The key to a successful resuscitation is the Chain of Survival which is made up of the following four stages: Recognition and activation of the emergency response system (Call 911), immediate, high-quality CPR (begin chest compressions), rapid defibrillation (use of an AED) basic and advanced emergency medical services (arrival of medics) advanced life support and post-arrest care (post-care in hospital).
Can I hurt someone using an AED on them?
Clinically speaking, a victim of cardiac arrest is technically dead and the use of CPR and an AED is their only chance of survival. An AED is designed to only deliver a shock to a victim whose heart is in VF or VT and analyses a casualty’s heart rhythm through the electrode pads to determine this.
An AED can be used on infants and children as well as adults. For children, it is advised that paediatric electrodes are used as they automatically reduce the amount of electrical energy delivered by the shock. If you are unable to find paediatric electrode pads, it is advised to use adult electrodes as it may be their only chance of survival. It is not advised however to use an AED on babies under one year of age.
Before you buy an AED
How do I know which AED is right for me?
Thanks to the wide range of defibrillators available on our website, it’s easy to feel spoilt for choice!
That’s why we’ve created an exclusive Buyer’s Guide, written specifically with YOU in mind to help you understand all you need to know about AEDs to help you make an informed decision.
If you’re still struggling to pick the perfect device for you, just pick up the phone and contact thedefibshop.com on 800 989 7768 where one of our knowledgeable advisors will help you with everything you need to know.
Do I need to be trained to use an AED?
Even though AEDs are designed to be used by anyone and everyone, regardless of prior training, we do advise that you do seek AED training so you can become familiarised with your defibrillator.
Cardiac emergencies are highly stressful situations which can impact your ability to think straight or take action. With training, you can increase your confidence and ability to provide the Chain of Survival steps with ease, increasing the victim’s chances of survival.
Why are some AEDs more expensive than others?
Different AEDs come with different unique features and functions, so depending on your needs, you can choose a device which will perfectly fit into the environment that you’re planning on keeping your device.
If you’ve never used an AED before, you may want to consider a device which comes with a CPR device, to help you deliver the most effective CPR possible in a rescue. Alternatively, if you’re trained in the use of AEDs or are a medical professional and are confident with your ability to use a defibrillator in an emergency, you may want a no-muss, no fuss device with manual override so you can provide care in accordance to your professional opinion.
All of these factors mean that the price of a defibrillator can fluctuate depending on which manufacturer and model you decide to choose. If you have a budget in mind but aren’t sure which device will work to suit your needs, give our friendly defibshop team a call. As a completely independent company, you can be sure that the advice we provide is honest and impartial to help you find the right AED for you.
What are my payment options to purchase an AED?
We accept all major credit cards and wire transfers which can be completed over the phone or directly through our website. We also offer finance which can be applied for on the product page.
How often do my AED electrode pads need to be replaced?
Whilst the shelf-life of electrode pads can differ with each manufacturer, the average lifespan of an electrode pad set is around 2 years. This being said, all electrode pads are single-use only and must be replaced with every use. Due to this factor, we recommend you purchase a spare set of electrodes for your defibrillator so that in the event that your original set becomes compromised, you still have the ability to deliver the treatment required.
When you purchase your defibrillator, you can sign up to our FREE reminder service which will take note of the expiration dates of your vital accessories and will send you an email in good time before your electrode pads are due to expire.
How often does my AED battery need replacing?
Similar to your electrode pads, your battery’s lifespan will depend on the manufacturer but typically will last around 2 years depending on use.
Thanks to the helpful “self-check” function on many AEDs, you’ll be notified when your device’s battery is running low and needs replacing so it can provide effective defibrillation in the event of an emergency. You can also sign up to defibshop’s FREE reminder service which will contact you before your battery is due to expire, allowing you to repurchase and keep on top of maintenance for your device.
Many defibrillators use their batteries differently and so it’s important that you put in the research to find the device that is cost-effective and most beneficial to suit your needs.
Need some help finding the right AED for you? You can download our exclusive Buyers Guide or call the helpful defibshop team on 800 989 7768
How do I know if my AED is working properly?
All AEDs are designed with a built-in readiness indicator, allowing you to quickly view whether your device is rescue-ready to save a life.
For ease of use, defibrillators have a self-test function, which will automatically test the usability of your device on a daily, weekly or monthly basis.
While the depth of the testing varies depending on which AED you have, all of the vital components such as battery levels and the connectivity of your electrode pads will always be checked so you can be alerted if something requires your attention or replacement.
If all tests come back positive, your readiness indicator will flash green, allowing you to check easily that your defibrillator is working exactly as it should. If there is an area which needs your attention, your AED will audibly alert you to the problem.
If you concerned about your defibrillators ability, feel free to call the defibshop team on 800 989 7768 who will be able to guide you through the process of checking the status of your defibrillator.
Where is the best place to keep my AED?
Your AED needs to be kept in a prime location that can be easily accessed in an emergency.
If you work in a small office building, this might be the lobby area, schools might want to keep theirs in the nurse’s office and communities might want to consider keeping their defibrillator in a mounted cabinet in a centralised location.
Only you will know the exact location that your AED can be quickly retrieved from; however, we do advise that you keep your device in a location that can be easily accessed and noticeable by everyone in the environment.
Can I use electrode pads more than once?
No. All electrode pads are single use only and cannot be reused after being placed on a patient’s body.
By keeping a spare set of electrodes with your defibrillator, you can ensure that you can always use your device in the event of an emergency if your original electrodes become compromised prior to the rescue.
Can I use the same electrode pads on adult and children?
No. There are specific paediatric electrode pads designed for each defibrillator to allow you to defibrillate a child between the ages of 1 and 8 in cardiac arrest.
As a child’s size is a lot more delicate than an adult, paediatric electrode pads must be used to allow for a safer shock to be delivered. Connecting paediatric electrodes to your device will automatically reduce the shock so the most effective care can be given.
This being said, many devices come with a paediatric switch or key, which will allow you to use adult electrode pads but will reduce the shock provided by functioning in paediatric mode.
In the event that no paediatric electrode pads are available, it is advised that adult electrode pads are used as this may be the child’s only chance of survival. It is not advised to use a defibrillator on an infant under the age of 1.
Can I use any electrode pads with any AED?
No. The AED you choose will require specific electrode pads which are designed to fit that particular device. All of our defibrillators come already equipped with at least one set of electrode pads, should you require an additional, replacement or spare pairs, you can order these exact ones using our website.
Do I need to do anything after I’ve used my AED in a rescue?
After using your AED in a rescue, you must get your AED ready for the next response. Firstly, replace the electrode pads; battery replacement will depend on the make and model of your AED, so we advise you to check the manufacturer guidelines of your device to determine whether a new battery is required after its use in a rescue.
Follow your AED manufacturer’s instructions for replacing, recycling and disposing of your AEDs used electrode pads and batteries for safe practice.
AEDs collect event data during a cardiac arrest which may be required by the emergency services to determine what could have caused the cardiac arrest and how many shocks were delivered throughout the rescue process. You can purchase specific event management software to retrieve this based on the make and model of your AED; if you are unsure how to manage your event data, we advise you to contact your AEDs manufacturer to help you extract the information successfully.