Automated External Defibrillators (AEDs)

Automated External Defibrillators are portable devices that are used check the heart rhythm of a person. AEDs can send an electric shock to the heart in order to restore a normal rhythm during a sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) situation. These devices are extremely popular among patients who have a history of heart abnormalities. AEDs have helped save quite a number of lives of such patients during emergency situations. This article provides a comprehensive overview of the Automated External Defibrillators or AEDs.


Sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) is a condition where the heart stops beating suddenly. The blood flow to the brain and other vital organs stop when the heart stops beating. SCA can cause death if not treated within minutes of occurring. In fact, each minute of delay to treat SCA will reduce your chances of survival by at least 10%. This is where the AED portable device comes in handy. Using an Automated External Defibrillator can help save the life of such a person.

Before learning how an AED works, it is important to know how the heart functions. The human heart has an electrical system that controls the rate and rhythm of the heartbeat. This electrical system travels from the top of the heart to the bottom with each heartbeat. This electrical signal causes the heart to contract at the right time and pump blood. This process is usually repeated with each new heartbeat. Problems with the electrical system may cause irregular heartbeats that are known as arrhythmias. When this happens, the heart can beat faster, slower or in an irregular fashion. Some arrhythmias may cause the heart to stop pumping blood. These are called sudden cardiac arrests (SCA). An arrhythmia known as ventricular fibrillation or v-fib is one of the most common causes for SCA. During this condition, the ventricles or lower chambers of the heart don’t beat normally. They become faster and irregular. Ventricular tachycardia is another common cause for SCA. People who suffer from these two arrhythmia conditions can benefit from the Automated External Defibrillators.

AEDs are easy to use, lightweight and battery operated. The device comes with comprehensive instructions where it may give you even voice prompts to let you know when to send an electric shock to the heart. It is helpful to learn to use the AED. Taking a CPR course will help you immensely in this regard. But if there are no trained people to handle the AED, even an untrained person can use the AED during an emergency to save a life. AEDs are available in most of the places where people visit and travel such as airports, large shopping malls, hotels, sports venues, airplanes, business centers, golf courses, and schools.

More than 95% people who have an SCA succumb to it within minutes. This is why it is important to have a device like an AED to save lives. Using the AED may help save a person’s life in the final analysis. Anyone suffering from an SCA may collapse suddenly or lose consciousness. Such a person may not be able to respond when you shake him or her or call them. They may not be breathing or having an abnormal breathing pattern. You may not find the pulse when you check the person. The skin can become darker or blue due to lack of oxygen. An AED may come in handy during such circumstances. It can check the person’s heart rhythm and determine whether he or she needs an electric shock to restore the heartbeat.

The AED is operated by attaching stick pads, which are called sensors, to the chest of the person suffering from the condition. These sensors send important information about the person’s heart rhythm to the computer of the AED. The computer will analyze the heart rhythm of the individual, and decide whether an electric shock is required at that particular moment. If it is required, the AED will use voice prompts to instruct you to give that shock. The heartbeat may resume within minutes of such a shock. This may help the person to live longer.