AED & CPR: A lifesaving combination
A cardiac arrest occurs when the heart malfunctions due to electrical rhythm problems and severely decreased blood flow. As the pumping of the heart stops there is no blood being brought to the brain, lungs and other organs. Seconds later, the person is not breathing or is only gasping. Death occurs within minutes if treatment is not received.
Cardiac arrest can happen to anyone at any time and is a leading cause of death in the United States, including women. It can occur in athletes, people with undiagnosed heart disease, patients with heart valve abnormalities, irregular heartbeat abnormalities, or even someone having a heart attack.
More than 350,000 cardiac arrests occur outside of a hospital each year, according to the American Heart Association, with less than ten percent of those surviving the arrest. This is why it is important for companies and organizations to implement automated external defibrillator (AED) programs to help community members respond to a cardiac arrest emergency.
An Automated External Defibrillator (AED) is an electronic medical device that can check a persons’ heart rhythm. It can recognize an abnormal rhythm that requires a shock. AEDs are very easy to use, with voice prompts, lights and text messages to tell the user what steps to take.
Placing AEDs in key locations, and making sure everyone is trained to use them, can mean the difference between life and death. Offices, airports, schools, shopping malls, grocery stores, manufacturing plants and golf courses are some of the sites equipped with AEDs.
AEDs are designed to deliver a shock to the cardiac arrest patient within three to five minutes after the person collapses. If working or visiting in an unfamiliar location be sure and locate the sites of the AEDs in the event you should need to use one. Look for them near elevators, cafeterias, main reception areas and on walls in main corridors.
Before beginning the use of the AED ask a bystander to call 911. Turn on the AED and follow the visual and/or audio prompts.
Open the person’s shirt and attach the AED pads. The AED will provide instructions on proper placement of the pads.
Make sure no one, including you, is touching the patient. Push the “analyze” button and allow the AED to analyze the patient’s heart rhythm.
If the AED recommends a shock be delivered, again, make sure no one is touching the patient. Tell everyone to “stand clear.” Once clear, press the “shock” button. Begin CPR after the shock is delivered.
If no shock is advised, you should begin CPR. Continue performing CPR for two minutes and let the AED check for a heart rhythm again. The AED will likely let you know when the two minutes has passed. Keep this up until EMS arrives, or the patient can breathe on their own, or regains consciousness.
An estimated 1,700 lives are saved in the United States each year by bystanders using an AED. To increase this number, it is important that more people be educated to look for AEDs in public locations and learn how to perform CPR.
To see how to properly perform Hands-Only-CPR, watch the how-to video at McLeodCPR.org.
Dr. Evans Holland is an Interventional Cardiologist with McLeod Cardiology Associates.