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Automated External Defibrillator: Jump-Starting the Heart
Automated External Defibrillator: Jump-Starting the Heart
Automated External Defibrillator: Jump-Starting the Heart

An automated external defibrillator (AED) is a device that can detect and correct specific types of abnormal heart rhythm called and . These abnormal heart rhythms frequently are the cause of cardiac arrest. As soon as cardiac arrest is recognized, cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) should be started. An AED should be used as soon as it is available while another bystander activates the emergency response system. If the AED detects an abnormal heart rhythm, it provides an electrical shock (defibrillation) that can restore normal heart rhythm and start the heart beating again. Emergency medical care should be obtained even if the heart has started beating again. CPR should be continued immediately after a shock is delivered and continued until the person starts to breathe normally and/or move, or until emergency medical services (EMS) providers arrive on the scene and take over care. The AED will continue to analyze the person's heart rhythm every 2 minutes and will provide additional shocks if indicated.

AEDs are easy to use. The American Red Cross and other organizations provide training sessions on the use of AEDs. Most training sessions take only a few hours; but it is possible to use an AED even if you have never participated in a training course. Different AEDs have somewhat different instructions for use. The instructions are written on the AED, and most modern AEDs also use voice prompts to direct the user in each step. AEDs are available in many public gathering places, such as stadiums, airports, and concert halls. People who are told by their doctor that they are likely to develop ventricular fibrillation but who do not have an implanted defibrillator may want to purchase an AED for home use by family members, who should be trained in its use.