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How to Use a Defibrillator

How to Use a Defibrillator

A defibrillator is an electronic device that is used for delivering an electrical shock to restore the normal rhythm in the event of a cardiac arrest. This write-up provides some information on when and how should this device be used.
Smita Pandit
The human heart is a vital organ that performs the task of pumping oxygenated blood to various parts of the body. The contraction or the beating of the heart facilitates the flow of oxygen-rich blood to the various parts of the body. Under normal circumstances, the heart beats about 60 to 100 times per minute. This is made possible by the rhythmical discharge of electrical impulses.
Whenever irregularities in the discharge of electrical impulses arise from the atria or the ventricles, the heart starts beating in an abnormal manner. Such a heart rhythm disorder is medically referred to as arrhythmia. In severe cases, electrical disturbances can even disrupt the pumping mechanism of the heart and lead to a cardiac arrest. An automated external defibrillator (AED) is a device that is used for correcting the irregularities in the discharge of electrical impulses. It helps in preventing cardiac arrest from turning into a life-threatening situation.
When to Use
A defibrillator is a device that helps in restoring the normal heart rhythm. If anyone in your family has been diagnosed with cardiac arrhythmia, it would be worthwhile to equip yourself with information on the usage of this device. Doctors and nurses are trained to use manual defibrillators, but for a layman, using an AED is the best option. When there isn't enough time to take the patient to a hospital, knowing how to use this device on someone having a sudden cardiac arrest, can definitely prove to be life-saving. So, when should one use this device?
This device must be used on a person only if he/she is having a cardiac arrest. Under these circumstances, the patient loses consciousness and becomes unresponsive. If the patient doesn't seem to be breathing and doesn't have a detectable pulse, then you must quickly use an AED. Performing cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) along with the use of this device within five minutes will definitely increase the patient's chances of survival. Remember that this device must not be used on a patient who is still breathing or has a pulse. One must also make sure that pediatric chest pads are used, if the patient is below the age of 12 years.
How to Operate
An AED is a very useful device that delivers an electric shock to the heart so as to restore the heart rhythm. Since it gives voice commands, it is not difficult to operate. However, one must follow the instructions properly. Certain precautionary measures also need to be followed. One must ensure that the patient's body is dry and that the patient is not wearing any metallic item while this device is used. You will see two adhesive electrode pads in this device.
These must be applied on a bare chest. One of the adhesive pads must be placed on the upper right side of the chest, while the other needs to be placed on the lower left section of the chest. Make sure that the pads are plugged into the connector. Once the device is switched on, the microprocessor will sense the heart rhythm of the person and advise the user whether administration of an electric shock is required or not.
While the heart rhythm is being checked, one must refrain from touching the patient. While some of the automated machines administer the shock automatically on sensing the need for a shock, some will give instructions on when to press the shock button. If the pulse is not detectable, use the device again. Even if the patient regains a pulse, leave the AED on and perform CPR until medical help arrives.
If the patient has an internal pacemaker, make it a point not to place the pads on the top of the pacemaker or other battery-operated implant. In severe cases of ventricular fibrillation, doctors often recommend the use of a defibrillator implant, but if such an implant has not been placed on the body, using an AED is one of the best options.
The timely use of an AED and CPR can certainly improve the chances of survival of a person having a cardiac arrest. Though an AED is an easy-to-use device which gives comprehensive voice commands, it would be better to undergo training before you use this device.
Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is solely for educating the reader. It is not intended to be a substitute for the advice of a medical expert.