Automated Defibrillator

The automated defibrillator is considered a godsend by anyone who has suffered cardiac distress at home or in any public place other than a medical facility. Immediate action is vital to saving the life of someone suffering an adverse cardiac event and, in certain cases, the very best intervention is cardiac defibrillation.

There was a time when cardiac defibrillation could be administered only in an operating room, with the patient's chest open so the heart was exposed. These first defibrillators were manually operated, requiring a doctor to diagnose irregular electrical impulses within the heart that caused it to beat dangerously out of rhythm.

Once ventricular fibrillation (VF) or ventricular tachycardia (VT) was confirmed, the physician then applied a special gel to the heart and placed a plastic defibrillator paddle on each side of the heart. The gel was formulated to direct electrical impulses from the paddles to the heart.

After the gel was applied and the pads placed appropriately, an electrical impulse was shot through the paddles, with the expectation that it would shock the heart's natural electrical impulses back into a stable, healthy beat.

This highly dramatic procedure did save lives but it was successful in only a small number of cases. All conditions had to be perfect for the possibility of success but most people experiencing VF or VT are not in the hospital undergoing open-heart surgery at the time of arrhythmia (erratic heart beat).

Over time, the procedure has evolved dramatically. One tremendous advance was the development of defibrillators that worked without need of direct placement on the heart. These devices worked on a closed chest, with no surgery needed.

Further advances have taken the need for manual manipulation out of the process as the automated defibrillator was developed. With the advent of automated defibrillators, the success of the procedure has grown dramatically.

An automated defibrillator is easy to use, even by an untrained person who is not a medical professional. The automated device detects arrhythmias and prompts the user to administer the electrical shock only when it is needed. There is no way to administer a shock by accident. The shock button will work only when VT or VF is detected, automatically.

As defibrillators have become easier to use, they are increasingly available in everyday settings far removed from the surgical arena. The window of opportunity is very small, only a few minutes, so the quicker a defibrillator can be administered, the greater the benefit to the patient.

As a result, it's becoming increasingly common to find an automated defibrillator in public places where many people congregate, especially under stressful circumstances. These devices are becoming standard first aid equipment in many workplaces, at sporting stadiums, casinos, on airplanes and trains, in schools, universities, and shopping centers.

It's also becoming more common to find an automated defibrillator in the home of a heart disease patient. When the threat of adverse cardiac event is not unexpected, having such a device at hand makes the home as safe and stress free as possible.