Frequently Asked Questions about AEDs
What is an AED and when is it needed?
An automated external defibrillator (AED) is used to deliver an electrical shock to the heart (defibrillation) of a victim of sudden cardiac arrest (SCA). Sudden cardiac arrest occurs most commonly when the heart’s electrical impulses suddenly become chaotic, causing the heart to abruptly stop pumping blood effectively – known as ventricular fibrillation. The only definitive treatment to restore an effective heart rhythm of the most common cause of SCA is defibrillation.
Do AEDs work?
Yes! It has been estimated that AEDs save 10,000 to 15,000 lives per year. Even as the list of lives saved by AEDs grows, the American Heart Association (AHA) estimated that 45,000 to 50,000 more lives can be saved each year if AEDs were more widely available.
Why should employers make Automated External Defibrillators available to employees?
There are 300,000-400,000 deaths per year in the United States from cardiac arrest. Most cardiac arrest deaths occur outside the hospital. Current out-of-hospital survival rates are 1 to 5 percent. With an AED, employers are providing a chance at saving a life.
What causes cardiac arrest, and how does an AED improve survivability?
Abnormal heart rhythms, with ventricular fibrillation (VF) being the most common, cause cardiac arrest.
Treatment of VF with immediate electronic defibrillation can increase survival to more than 90 percent.
With each minute of delay in defibrillation, 10 percent fewer victims survive. It has been estimated that AEDs
Who can be affected by SCA?
Unfortunately, anyone can suffer sudden cardiac arrest. SCA is unpredictable and can happen, without warning or symptoms, to anyone, anytime, anywhere...even teenagers.
How safe are AEDs?
AEDs are designed to deliver a shock only to someone who is suffering from a treatable arrhythmia in cardiac arrest. When used properly and with appropriate precautions, AEDs are very simple to operate and pose no risk to either the rescuer or the victim.
Are AEDs difficult to use?
AEDs are easy to use. In mock cardiac arrest, minimally trained sixth-grade children were able to use most AEDs without difficulty. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulates medical devices including AEDs. They determine whether a medical device needs a prescription to buy and use. The Philips HeartStart OnSite AED does not require a prescription to purchase. In fact, the Philips OnSite AED was the first and is still the only AED that does not require a prescription.
Who can use an AED?
AEDs are designed to help people with minimal training safely use them in tense, emergency situations. They have numerous built-in safeguards and are designed to deliver a shock only if the AED detects that one is necessary.
What are the differences between brands of AED?
Most AEDs function similarly in the following way; the unit needs to be turned on, then pads are placed on the patient's chest. The AED then determines if the person needs a shock or not. The following organizations manufacturer AEDs: Cardiac Science, Inc., WelchAllyn, Inc., Physio-Control, Inc., Philips Healthcare, Zoll Medical Corporation, HeartSine Technologies and Defibtech. Some manufacturers make several AED models.
The following is a selection of AED Models:
Where can I see a demonstration of how to use an AED?
This is a full demonstration of the Philips HeartStart OnSite AED.