AED Maintenance: How Often to Replace Pads for Optimal Use

Since many people die of sudden cardiac arrest, AEDs play a huge role in decreasing fatality rates. First responders can use the machine to immediately stabilise an individual, lowering the risk of permanent brain injury and even death.

With how essential AED devices are, it's only logical to keep them in the best condition possible with the crucial components. Regular AED maintenance and the standard installation of replacement pads and batteries are necessary. Since AED pads are so central, what exactly are they, and why do they need to be replaced frequently?

Analysing AED Pads

AED pads are used on resuscitation occasions. Pads can be fitted for either adult or child patients. The former is used in most circumstances, while the latter is required when mild defibrillation or resuscitation is on a young person.

These pads are a vital component of the resuscitation process. Suppose you're familiar with medical equipment or have watched at least one medical drama or film. In that case, you're probably familiar with the machine that hospitals use to resuscitate patients who suffer from cardiac arrest: the defibrillator. AEDs, on the other hand, are portable defibrillators, and pads play the same role as heart paddles do.

Did You Know AED Pads Expire?

Replacing pads is a normal part of AED maintenance, just like changing the unit's batteries. That's because AED pads contain perishable materials that go bad as time passes.

AED pads are made of plastic and metal, which do not expire, but the conductive adhesive gel does. The gel dries up and becomes brittle and eventually cracks as time passes. If it is not replaced regularly, AED shocks will be dramatically affected during a rescue.

So How Often Do They Need to be Replaced?

Determining the regularity of AED maintenance hinges on how often you store and use the device. There is no one best answer to this question. How long the pads last depends on a wide range of factors, including the brand and model of AED and the storage conditions. Pads can last anywhere from two to five years, but some have been known to last even longer.

For most AED users, two years is already a long time. However, it’s better safe than sorry; regularly check your AED device to see if the pads need to be replaced. You can also select remote AED services, where the manufacturer conducts regular, remote diagnostics to check if the pads are still functioning as they should. They will also notify you when it is time to replace them.

The Consequences of Poor AED Maintenance

The biggest mistake an emergency respondent can make is letting AED pads expire. Even if the AED is infrequently used, AED pads can still expire. If you attempt to use an expired AED, the device will not work correctly. One or more of the following scenarios may occur:

  • Inaccurate readings: If the pads don’t stick well to the patient’s chest because it is expired, the machine might deliver electric pulses that are either too weak or too strong.
  • Increased risk of injury: If the gel material breaks down, the electrodes might disconnect from the gel. The electrodes deliver electric pulses to the patient’s body, while the gel protects the body from electrical burns during the treatment. If the gel disintegrates and the electrodes directly contact the body, it might cause burns.
  • Decreased shock efficiency: If your AED pads have expired, they might not stick well to the skin, leading to electric pulses not penetrating the skin properly. The machine will be less effective at stabilising a patient's heartbeat, and they could die.


Practice proper AED maintenance to ensure that your devices are in good working condition when the need arises. Pay attention to the expiration date on new pads after purchasing them from the manufacturer, and replace the battery now and then. These ensure you can save more lives in the field.

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