An Overview of the Use of a Defibrillator

People are often interested in understanding what a defibrillator does, how it works, and who it is for, and in this post, we will discuss the basics of defibrillation machines, including new and refurbished defibrillators

Which Conditions Are They For?

A defibrillator is a tool to help someone who has suffered from cardiac arrest. Cardiac arrest is a specific life-threatening event that happens when a patient’s heart begins to beat abnormally at an irregular rhythm. Sometimes the heart beats slowly when this occurs, and it can be caused by a variety of heart health conditions. 

It must be noted, however, that this machine is not for use if a patient is having a heart attack, as the mechanism will not help a person in that situation. It is, therefore, vital to understand the difference between cardiac arrest and a heart attack when attempting to use a defibrillator. Cardiac arrest is caused by an electrical problem within the heart, whereas a heart attack is an issue with circulation caused by a blockage, typically because of high cholesterol or plaque. 

Cardiac arrest patients are usually unconscious and without a pulse, and heart attack sufferers may experience tightness in the chest and fatigue, beginning hours or days before the attack. Both conditions are serious and can be fatal, cardiac arrest being so often within minutes. Also, despite what the movies and shows on TV portray, a defibrillator is not used to restart a heart that has stopped beating. 

What Does a Defibrillator Do? 

A defibrillator delivers an electric shock to the heart in order to correct the pattern of an irregular heartbeat. The machine referred to as an automated external defibrillator, or AED, has two electrodes that must be attached to the patient’s bare skin using a self adhering pad.

The anterior electrode is to be placed on the right shoulder just under the clavicle, and the apex electrode is to go on the left side of the patient’s chest, just under and on the left side of his or her pectoral muscle. This machine can be used by a layperson, as it will provide the user with instructions. It has the ability to analyze the patient’s condition to determine if a shock will be helpful or if the user should perform CPR.

Other types of defibrillators are available, including manual external defibrillators, most commonly used by paramedics and EMTs, and manual internal defibrillators that are used most often in the operating room and that work by placing two paddles directly over the heart. Refurbished defibrillators are commonly purchased in the work place and in medical settings, as they provide the same level of quality as a new defibrillator and because refurbished defibrillators can help save both money and lives.