Health & Medical Cardiovascular Health

Why Defibrillators Are Useful

    Ventricular Fibrillation

    • Heart attack is a blanket term. The most common form of heart attack is ventricular fibrillation, during which the heart's electrical system goes haywire and causes the heart to become arrhythmic instead of contracting smoothly. This causes blood to pool in the heart instead of being pumped throughout the body. This effect deprives your organs of much-needed oxygen and can be fatal if not treated within minutes. An AED uses electrical impulses to restart the heart's electrical system so it can function properly.

    CPR vs. AED

    • While cardiopulmonary resuscitation can help by keeping blood flowing throughout the body, it cannot fix the heart's electrical impulses. This means that if you had a heart attack and someone was able to perform CPR on you, he would only be able to do it for so long before your organs' oxygen levels stopped being met. With an AED, your heart has a greater chance of being shocked back into its normal rhythm. This greatly increases your chance of survival.

    Ease of Use

    • A benefit of an AED is its ease of use. While you need to properly train on how to use an AED, it isn't something that most people should find too difficult. AEDs use diagrams, voice prompts and text displays to help ensure accurate usage. For a brief video on AED usage, see Resources.


    • A typical AED costs around $3,000, according to the Red Cross. You might not classify this as cheap, but when weighed against the risk of loss of life, it can make for a wise investment. It is important to consider your risk level. A fit woman in her mid-20s is less likely to suffer a heart attack than an overweight man in his mid-50s.

    Workplace and Public Availability

    • Because of their ease of use and relative affordability, AEDs are becoming more prevalent in work settings and places where large groups of people congregate. In 2007, 16 YMCAs in the city of Phoenix made the decision to purchase an AED. This means that anyone using one of these facilities is always in close proximity to one of these live-saving devices. AEDs in schools, hotels, public facilities and corporate settings help save lives every year.

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