Automated External Defribrillators
Heart disease is the number 1 killer in the United States. Every day, more than 2600 Americans die from cardiovascular disease, which amounts to 1 death every 33 seconds.
Most of these deaths occur with little or no warning, from a syndrome called sudden cardiac arrest. The most common cause of sudden cardiac arrest is a disturbance in the heart rhythm called ventricular fibrillation.
Ventricular fibrillation is dangerous because it cuts off blood supply to the brain and other vital organs.
- The ventricles are the chambers that pump blood out of the heart and into the blood vessels. This blood supplies oxygen and other nutrients to organs, cells, and other structures.
- If these structures do not receive enough blood, they start to shut down, or fail.
- If blood flow is not restored immediately, permanent brain damage or death is the result.
Ventricular fibrillation often can be treated successfully by applying an electric shock to the chest with a procedure called defibrillation.
- In coronary care units, most people who experience ventricular fibrillation survive, because defibrillation is performed almost immediately.
- The situation is just the opposite when cardiac arrest occurs outside a hospital setting. Unless defibrillation can be performed within the first few minutes after the onset of ventricular fibrillation, the chances for reviving the person (resuscitation) are very poor.
- For every minute that goes by that a person remains in ventricular fibrillation and defibrillation is not provided, the chances of resuscitation drop by almost 10 percent. After 10 minutes, the chances of resuscitating a victim of cardiac arrest are near zero.
Cardiopulmonary resuscitation, usually known as CPR, provides temporary artificial breathing and circulation.
- It can deliver a limited amount of blood and oxygen to the brain until a defibrillator becomes available.
- However, defibrillation is the only effective way to resuscitate a victim of ventricular fibrillation.
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