Understanding the Basics of AED: What Does It Do to the Heart?

Sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) is a life-threatening emergency that requires immediate action. In Australia, approximately 33,000 people experience an out-of-hospital cardiac arrest each year, and sadly, only 10% of these individuals survive. With the right training and access to life-saving tools, such as automated external defibrillators (AEDs), the survival rate can significantly improve.

Understanding the Basics of AED: What Does It Do to the Heart?

An AED is a portable electronic device designed to diagnose and treat life-threatening heart conditions, such as ventricular fibrillation or pulseless ventricular tachycardia. These conditions occur when the heart's electrical activity becomes chaotic, preventing it from pumping blood effectively. 

When applied to a person experiencing SCA, the AED analyses the heart's rhythm and, if necessary, delivers an electric shock to restore a normal heart rhythm.

The heart has an electrical system that controls the rate and rhythm of the heartbeat. In a healthy heart, electrical impulses ensure that the heart pumps blood efficiently throughout the body. 

However, in certain situations, these impulses can become erratic, causing the heart muscles to contract chaotically. An AED works by delivering a controlled electric shock to the heart, effectively "resetting" the electrical system and allowing the heart to resume pumping blood.

What Causes Cardiac Arrest?

Cardiac arrest is the sudden loss of heart function due to a malfunction in the heart's electrical system. It can result from various factors, including:

  1. Coronary artery disease: This is the most common cause of cardiac arrest, where the arteries supplying blood to the heart become blocked or narrowed, leading to a heart attack.
  1. Cardiomyopathy: This condition involves the enlargement or thickening of the heart muscle, which can disrupt the heart's electrical system.
  1. Congenital heart disease: Some individuals are born with structural heart abnormalities that can increase the risk of cardiac arrest.
  1. Electrical abnormalities: Certain inherited conditions, such as long QT syndrome or Brugada syndrome, can cause irregular heart rhythms that may lead to cardiac arrest.
  1. Substance abuse: The use of illicit drugs or excessive alcohol consumption can also trigger a sudden cardiac arrest.

What is the Survival Rate?

The survival rate for out-of-hospital cardiac arrest in Australia is estimated to be around 10%. However, with the timely initiation of CPR and the use of an AED, the chances of survival can increase up to 70%. The key to improving survival rates lies in reducing the time it takes to receive treatment, as every minute without intervention reduces the likelihood of survival by 10%.

Why Does CPR Matter?

CPR is a crucial step in the chain of survival, as it helps maintain blood flow to the brain and other vital organs while waiting for emergency medical services to arrive. By manually compressing the chest and delivering rescue breaths, CPR can help buy time for the victim until an AED becomes available or professional help arrives. Notably, the combination of CPR and AED use significantly increases the chances of survival compared to either intervention alone.

Adding AEDs and CPR Training in Your Workplace

Implementing a comprehensive CPR and AED training program in your workplace can save lives and foster a culture of safety and preparedness. In the event of a cardiac emergency, your employees will be equipped with the knowledge and skills to take immediate action, improving the survival chances of the affected individual.

In addition to training, it is vital to ensure that AEDs are easily accessible and well-maintained within your workplace. Regularly check the AED's battery life and electrode pad expiration dates, and consider partnering with a professional AED management service to ensure your devices are always ready for use.

The Bottom Line

Understanding the basics of AEDs, the causes of cardiac arrest, and the importance of CPR can make a life-saving difference in an emergency. By incorporating AEDs and CPR training into your workplace, you are not only investing in the safety and well-being of your employees, but also contributing to a safer community at large.

Whether you need an AED device, accessories, training materials, or ongoing support, Restart the Heart can be your go-to AED supply store, as we have everything you need to be prepared for a cardiac emergency. Contact us today to learn more about our products and services!