Importance of AEDs

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Today we have a guest post from A. Ersin Atay, M.D, a cardiologist from Cedar Rapids, Iowa, about the importance of  automated external defibrillators.

AED or Not?

What are cardiologists saying about AEDs?

The community needs more leaders to support and understand the importance of Automated External Defibrillators (AEDs).

Number of deaths associated with causes

There are no specific “rules” about if or where AEDs should be placed in the community.   Even school mandates regarding AED placement are spotty and minimal.  Being a cardiologist, I am keenly aware of the everyday impact of Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA), the nation’s largest killer, in our community.

In our practice, we see patients suffering from potentially fatal arrhythmias on a daily basis.  Those people who are identified early before a SCA are the lucky ones.  Unfortunately, half the people who have SCA did not know they had heart trouble until their cardiac arrest occurred.  Here is an example of Normal heart activity: Note the spike pattern with each beat of the heart.

Normal heart rate

What happens during Sudden Cardiac Arrest:
The heart enters a chaotic rhythm called ventricular fibrillation (VF) or possibly ventricular tachycardia (VT).  Both of these rhythms can be deadly if not corrected within a few short minutes. The spikes disappear and a rapid, “wavy” pattern occurs.

Heartbeat under cardiac arrest

Problem:

The heart cannot pump blood effectively and the victim will collapse.

Symptoms:

Victim is unconscious, not breathing spontaneously, has no pulse

Solution:

Defibrillation to restore normal rhythm and CPR. The most essential part of this equation is the shock delivered by the defibrillator which actually stops the heart and allows it to restart with a normal rhythm.  To the right is an example of a defibrillation event which saved the life of a victim.

Education on SCA and the use of AEDs is important.  Survival rates above 75% have been achieved where automatic external defibrillators (AEDs) are readily available. Any victim’s family members or friends, coworkers and those who have faced a death from SCA would vote that there is no option.  I agree.

Does your child’s school have an AED?  Is there one at the gym you work out at?  What if someone with SCA collapsed at your workplace?

Talk to your employer,  principal or owner about AEDs – it could be the difference between life or death!

Wishing you a long and healthy life!

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2 Responses to Importance of AEDs

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