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What Is an AED, and How Do You Use It?

We all know how to use a defibrillator, right? We’ve seen it in countless TV shows and movies. You rub the two pads together, yell “clear,” and you shock the unsuspecting person back to life. That’s it, right? No, of course not. That’s especially not true with an automated external defibrillator (AED) that you often see in public places. When you use them properly, these devices can save a life during sudden cardiac arrest. Given that around 383,000 Americans have cardiac arrests out of hospitals each year, knowing how to use AEDs and provide proper chest compressions can save someone’s life.

What Are AEDs?

An automated external defibrillator is a device that can defibrillate the heart during cardiac arrest. When a person has a heart attack, their heart stops and goes into ventricular fibrillation. This is a fatal heart rhythm (or an arrhythmia) that happens because the heart is fibrillating (or quivering) instead of pumping blood due to heart disease. This decreases the blood flow to the body.

You can treat v-fib, even if you didn’t go to medical school. However, you do need an AED, and you need to know how to use it. If you shock a heart with a correct electrical shock, you can restore the heart and vascular order.

Why Are They Important?

Over 90% of cardiac arrests involve ventricular fibrillation. That means that having a device on hand that can correct it (and knowing how to use it) can increase the person’s survival chances. Of course, even with an AED on hand, you should still call 911 and ensure that the person in cardiac arrest reaches a cardiologist or any other heart doctor as soon as possible.

Since the implementation of AEDs across the country, the survival rate of cardiac arrests that happen out of the hospital (which is the majority of them, or 88%) has skyrocketed.

How to Use an AED?

High blood pressure, coronary artery disease, and other heart issues can lead to sudden cardiac arrest. The main symptoms are:

  • chest pains
  • lightheadedness, dizziness, or fainting
  • shortness of breath
  • irregular heartbeats
  • heart palpitations

If you see a person with these symptoms and you have access to an AED, it’s essential that you use it properly to help. There are specific steps to using an AED that you should follow. Before and after administering the AED, use CPR.

  1. Turn the AED on. You’ll hear audio prompts as well as see the visual ones that you should follow.
  2. Expose the chest of the person who’s in cardiac arrest and wipe it so it’s dry.
  3. Peel the protective plastic from the AED pads and place them on the person’s chest exactly as shown in the picture on the pads.
  4. Plug the AED in.
  5. Allow the device to analyze the heartbeats of the person and look for further instructions.
  6. If the AED recommends shocking the person’s heart, make sure no one is making any contact with the person. This is where you should yell “clear,” as that’s actually a very important step.
  7. Press the shock button.
  8. After the device shocks the heart, continue with CPR. If the device didn’t advise a shock, then continue the CPR as soon as you get results and until you get signs of life. The device will keep giving you prompts, so make sure you follow them.

High Risk of Sudden Cardiac Arrest? We can Help!

At Brookhaven Heart, we provide a myriad of cardiovascular services in order to help you keep your heart healthy and strong. At our cardiologist clinic, we offer preventative and advanced heart health services in three locations — East Patchogue, Hicksville, and New Hyde Park. Give us a call and set up your appointment today!

Welcome to Brookhaven Heart

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