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What is an AED?

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When the heart stops, seconds count. And the longer it takes for the heart to return to a normal rhythm, the lower the chances of survival.

According to the American Heart Association, a patient’s chance of surviving a sudden cardiac arrest drops by 7 to 10 percent for every minute a normal heartbeat isn’t restored. Using an AED (automated external defibrillator) with CPR can help save someone whose heart has stopped.

What is an AED?

An AED is a battery-operated, portable medical device that is commonly placed in an increasing number of work and public places. It comes with a pair of electrode pads that are placed on the chest. Once connected, the AED uses computerized algorithms to determine if there is a condition known as ventricular fibrillation that requires an electric shock, also known as a defibrillation. In the simplest terms, an AED helps shock the heart rhythm back to normal.

An AED is simple to operate – once it’s turned on, visual and/or verbal prompts will guide you step by step. After you call 911, here’s what you’ll do:

  • Place a set of adhesive pads on the unconscious individual’s bare chest
  • Stand back as the AED analyzes the individual’s heart rhythm – if a shock is required the AED will automatically charge itself
  • Press the “shock” button when prompted by the AED
  • Follow the prompts on the AED to check the individual’s breathing and start CPR

A few things to remember when using an AED:

  • A conscious person who is having a heart attack does not need an AED
  • Make sure the area around the person is clear
  • Touching the person could interfere with the AED’s reading of the person’s heart
  • Not all cardiac arrests are due to ventricular fibrillation. The AED will not deliver an electric shock if the heart rate is not a shockable rhythm


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