Defibrillators are devices that are used to regulate heart rhythm through the administering of an electrical shock to the heart. These devices are used to defibrillate the heart in cases where the heartbeat increases to a dangerously fast rate. This can happen with ventricular tachycardia or ventricular fibrillation. With these conditions, the dangers can be serious, as the heart can stop pumping blood through the rest of the body suddenly, which is what causes cardiac arrest. The patient can also lose consciousness. In the past, defibrillators were only used by trained medical professional such as doctors in a clinical setting, However, devices are now available that can be used by those with only a little training, enabling additional lives to be saved.
There are a couple of different types of defibrillators. One version of this device is known as an ICD (Internal Cardiac Defibrillator). This type of internal device is actually implanted in the user, and performs the defibrillation process on the ventricular chambers. The second type of defibrillator is an external one, which is found in hospitals and on board an ambulance. Once used only by trained medics, there is now an automated external defibrillator available for use by the general public. It is thought that many more lives can be saved each year with the availability of the automated external defibrillator, and the American Heart Association puts this figure at around the fifty thousand mark providing these external defibrillators are made widely available for use by the public.
Some patients with chronic ventricular tachycardia or fibrillation will be fitted with an ICD implantation, and this form of the device will automatically monitor and rectify any relevant irregularities. In other cases the external defibrillator would be used. Some of the external defibrillators available today are designed to be used by just about anyone that can understand and carry out basic instructions. These are almost self-explanatory, automated gadgets, and can prove a big help, offering peace of mind to users as well as to those at risk of these heart problems.
For example, you will find external defibrillators that provide extremely easy to follow steps, such as the HeartStart model. This one is designed for use by a wide range of people and could help to save lives. It is suggested that, should you find someone that you think has gone into cardiac arrest you should call the emergency services and then proceed with the defibrillator.
There are several simple steps involved in using this defibrillator. First, you pull the very clearly marked handle that will trigger the voice that will guide you through the process. You then place the pads on the chest of the patient, still listening to the guiding voice. This particular device has very sensitive sensors and can tell if you are taking too long, in which case it will guide you further. Once correctly applied, the defibrillator pads will start monitoring the rhythm of the patient’s heart. It is the defibrillator that determines whether or not to administer a shock based on the evaluation of the patient’s heart rhythm, so you won’t have to take the responsibility of making that important decision.
If the defibrillator indicates that a shock is required, a light will normally flash, and you then simply press a button that administers the shock. The device has a safety net in that it will not allow a shock to be administered unless it decides that one is required.
Having access to one of these automated, external defibrillators can prove invaluable and could save the life of a loved one – or a stranger. Either way, being able to use one of these devices through familiarizing yourself with how they work could save a precious life.