What Does an Automated External Defibrillator Do?

When we see an AED used on TV or in movies, you may notice that the heart monitor usually displays a flat line. We call this cardiac rhythm asystole. In reality, public access defibrillators (PADs, which are AEDs in public locations) will not administer a shock to a victim who is in asystole due to the need for some form of electrical activity to be present in the heart prior to the shock being delivered. Just as an AED will not deliver a shock to someone in a normal, healthy heart rhythm, an AED will not treat someone in asystole.

Our goal in administering a shock to a victim is to reset that individual’s heart, normalizing their heart rhythm. An AED does this by stopping a person’s heart for a split second, with hopes of normal muscle memory taking over and a normal rhythmic action taking place post-shock.

Remember that even if you are unable to administer a shock from an AED, you still have a major role to play in increasing a victim’s chances of survival. The continued administration of high-quality CPR can increase one’s survival rate by up to 25 percent.

If you do not yet know CPR or how to use an AED, please consider registering for a course – you could be a lifesaver! To learn more about Heart Niagara’s CPR and AED courses, visit http://cpr.heartniagara.org

By Tim Jakob, Specialist, Resuscitation Program Training and Deployment

Tim is Heart Niagara’s go-to guy for AED deployment and training. Tim also works as a CPR Instructor for community events and the Healthy Heart Schools Program.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in blog entries are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Heart Niagara.

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