What is a defibrillator used for?

What is a defibrillator used for?

Defibrillators are medical devices that are used when someone suffers a sudden cardiac arrest (SCA). A SCA is caused due to an electrical problem with the heart that causes it to beat irregularly. This means the heart can beat to fast or too slow. There are a number of conditions that fall under this diagnosis including Atrial Fibrillation (AFib), Atrial Flutter (AFL), Sick Sinus Syndrome (SSS) and Sinus Tachycardia to name a few.

Although someone who has one of these conditions is arguably at higher risk of suffering a cardiac arrest, a SCA can happen to anyone at anytime which is what makes them so dangerous. This is where a defibrillator comes in.

As oxygen cannot be adequately pumped around the body due to the heart’s rhythm being disrupted, the brain and other vital organs will quickly begin to shut down if intervention is not put in place.

When you come across someone who is suffering a SCA, you must alert the emergency services immediately, begin CPR and then find the nearest defibrillator. It is worth taking note of where your closest defibrillator is installed when at home, the shops and at work so you can find it as quickly as possible in an emergency.

A defibrillator cleverly scans the hearts rhythm to determine whether a shock is needed to help the heart restore to it’s natural pace. If one is needed it will deliver one automatically via an AED and will alert you to press a button if you have a semi-automatic defibrillator.

In order to deliver the potentially life saving shock, a defibrillator uses an electric current which is sent from the device, through the defibrillator pads and to the patients heart.

It can be quite daunting when it comes to choosing the ideal defibrillator as there are so many options available. Most importantly, there are two types available that will hep you make your decision. These are an automatic external defibrillator (AED) or a semi-automatic external defibrillator.

Both work in the same way however, an AED delivers a shock without you having to do anything whilst a semi-automatic defibrillator requires you to push a button to deliver a shock. Neither defibrillator will let you administer a shock if one is not needed. This means that you cannot cause harm to someone who has suffered a SCA and by using a defibrillator, you can only help them.

According to the British Heart Foundation, around 100,000 people die every year in the UK from a sudden cardiac arrest. Although this number is thankfully reducing, if someone suffers a cardiac arrest, their chances of survival are very slim unless a defibrillator is used. With this, there is a large emphasis to increase the awareness of defibrillators with many more being installed in public places around the country, helping to save further lives.

It is important to know the difference between a cardiac arrest and a heart attack as both can be easily confused. A heart attack is caused by a block in the arteries that deliver blood to the heart and is known as a circulation problem - if someone suffers a heart attack, they will probably remain conscious. A cardiac arrest on the other hand, is an electrical problem, it can happen to anyone regardless of whether they have any underlying health conditions or not and the patient will be unconscious and unresponsive.

Having defibrillators installed in a number of public places across the country increases the chances of immediate, effective care so that more lives can be saved.

Across the UK, there are currently more than 10,000 defibrillators installed in offices, schools, sports facilities and supermarkets helping to deliver fast care. If you are interested in having a defibrillator installed in your local town but aren’t sure how to go about it, you can have a look at defibrillator funding in order to get one installed near you. Alternatively, if you are interested to learn where your closest defibrillator is located, websites such as Adopt An AED allow you to enter your postcode and located your closest defibrillator. The link is here: Adopt an AED: Adopt | Donate | Crowdfund (Defibrillators).

There are a number of defibrillators available at Risk Assessment Products all varying in availability and price. Providing a comprehensive range of market leading defibrillators such as Phillips, CU Medical, Cardiac Science, Zoll and more, you can browse the entire range here to pick the best option for you.

15th Jan 2021 Christopher Maltby CW

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