How a defibrillator helps the heart

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Once the heart has gone into cardiac arrest, the only treatment which can help resolve the condition is the administering of life saving CPR and the use of a defibrillator.

A sudden cardiac arrest is a condition usually caused by either VF (ventricular fibrillation) or VT (ventricular tachycardia) and means that the heart is beating in an irregular pattern. The only way to correct the rhythm is to restart the heart and hope the muscle resets its beating pattern to normal.

Life saving CPR allows oxygenated blood to still pump around the body, albeit at a slower pace, but just enough to keep vital organs supplied, subsequently preserving life until further medical assistance can be provided or a defibrillator can be found.

A defibrillator is vital in trying to restart the heart after someone has suffered a sudden cardiac arrest.

If a defibrillator is used, along with immediate and effective CPR within 3-5 minutes following a cardiac arrest; survival chances increase from 6% to 74%.

Within 60 seconds and chances increase to 90%.

The AED firstly analyses the heart and identifies the incorrect rhythm causing the problem, if it is one of the two fixable irregular rhythms, it will advise shock therapy as a form of treatment.

Electro shock therapy is the process of having an electrical current passed through the heart and chest wall in an attempt to restart the heart's right beating rhythm. In order to do this the heart must temporarily stop beating in order for it to start again.

An electric shock works with the heart as the organ itself beats because of electrical impulses, in fact your heart can keep beating even if it is separated from your body due to the electrical charge the heart muscle creates.

Once you have come through a sudden cardiac arrest, if a previously unknown heart condition comes to light, you may have to be fitted with an ICD (implantable cardioverter defibrillator).

Next generation ICDs have a dual function in that they can serve as a pacemaker, stimulating the heart to beat if the heart rate is detected to be too slow. Whilst it can also deliver an electric shock to the heart if an abnormal heart beat is detected.

In short, defibrillators are the key to the hearts survival after it suffers a sudden cardiac arrest, without defibrillator technology and the immediate application of life saving CPR, an SCA patient’s chances of survival are very slim.

For more information on defibrillators, the heart, cardiac arrest and everything in between, you could always pay a visit to our revamped FAQ page which is packed full of useful information.

Keep an eye on our blog page throughout February as we post a blog everyday as we raise awareness of heart health throughout National Heart Month.

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