Medial Technology 101: How to Use a Defibrillator Properly

Cardiology is a specialised branch of medicine that deals with the heart and the various problems it can experience. Like any other branch of medicine, it uses special tools to ensure the heart is in good condition. One perfect example of this is the defibrillator.

A defibrillator is a life-saving device explicitly used to tackle tachycardia or rapid heart rate. It is a machine used to bring the heart back to a normal rhythm in a heart attack or abnormal heart rhythm. The defibrillator generates a series of high-voltage, low-amperage electric shocks through electrodes on your chest, which are positioned directly over the heart. While many people are aware of its usage, not many people know how to use it correctly, which is why we're here.

This article will discuss how to use defibrillators the right way. Read on below to get started.

Sudden Cardiac Arrest

Sudden cardiac arrest is the most common scenario when a defibrillator is taken out and used. When this happens, a short shock is needed to restart the heart.

First and foremost, you must call 000 first to have responders on the scene. When they arrive, someone who has been in cardiac arrest will be checked for breathing, pulse and responsiveness before using a defibrillator.

The next step is to check for a pulse. If there is no pulse, the defibrillator will revive the person. If the defibrillator is not available at the scene, CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) will revive the person.

Using a Defibrillator on a Patient

In a non-heart attack situation where the person is unconscious, the same steps are followed. If there is no pulse, the defibrillator will be used when checking for a pulse.

The only significant difference between the two scenarios is that the defibrillator will be used first on a person in cardiac arrest instead of a person with a non-life-threatening condition. The defibrillator will be used as a last resort.

The Critical 10 Minutes

When someone goes into SCA, the first 10 minutes are critical because this is the time the brain does not have sufficient blood flow. Once the brain is deprived of blood for a prolonged time, the brain starts to die.

As a result, the person must be revived to bring them back to consciousness. If the person is not revived within 10 minutes, things can get tricky, as the person could suffer permanent brain damage.

If the person is convulsing and having a seizure, they're in immediate need of a defibrillator. Once the seizure has stopped, the person must be checked for responsiveness. If the person is still not responsive, a defibrillator will restart the heart.

Types of Defibrillators

While a defibrillator has a single function, there are different types. These are:

Automated External Defibrillator

AEDs are portable devices that can be used by just about anyone. It’s a tool used to treat sudden cardiac arrest and can be found in many public places such as cinemas, offices, gyms and schools. AEDs use sensors and electrodes to listen to the heart to identify an irregular rhythm. If the AED detects an irregular rhythm, the AED will ask the person operating it to press the shock button.

Implantable Cardioverter Defibrillator

An ICD is a life-saving device implanted into the body and used to treat arrhythmias. An ICD is designed to address the non-sustained ventricular tachycardia and ventricular fibrillation common in young people.

ICDs are used in elderly patients if they suffer from these types of arrhythmias. ICDs are small in size and can be placed under the skin. Once they're implanted, they continuously record the heart's activity, and if an irregular rhythm is detected, it will deliver a shock to the heart.

Wearable Cardioverter Defibrillator

A wearable cardioverter defibrillator is an ICD made to be worn on the body. A wearable cardioverter defibrillator is similar to a pacemaker, except it can deliver defibrillation. A wearable cardioverter defibrillator should only be used if the person has had an ICD placed in the past.


Defibrillators are life-saving tools that help to keep the heart working efficiently. It's used in dire situations, and using it should be taught to everyone. As long as you keep your composure when using one, you can save a life.

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