Choosing a defibrillator can easily become very confusing with lots of technical jargon and sales waffle. At defibshop.co.uk we try to cut through all this stuff and help you select the defib which best meets YOUR company needs and budget; we don't favour one manufacturer over another like most other companies.
To help you with this process you need to narrow you sales decision down to 3 things:
- Reliability: Will the defibrillator be ready when I need to use it?
- Ease of Use: How easy will it be to use in an emergency situation?
- Price: How much will my budget allow me to spend?
Our AED Buyer's Guide has been specifically written with YOU in mind and we will help you understand all you need to know to help you make an informed decision. Alternatively, just pick up the phone and one of our team will help you with everything you need to know!
Our Facts and Figures page will highlight the risk of SCA, showing the importance of having available defibrillators available in public buildings, schools, workplaces, leisure centres and other community areas across the UK.
Below we've shared our knowledge on some of the most common questions we get asked on a regular basis. Can't find yours? Call one of our friendly advisors on 0845 071 0830 and they'll happily answer any queries you may have.
- What is an AED?
- What is Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA)?
- Are Sudden Cardiac Arrest and a Heart Attack the same thing?
- Why are defibrillators important?
- Who can use an AED?
- Will an AED always resuscitate someone in cardiac arrest?
- Do I still need to call 999 / 112 for an ambulance?
- Can I hurt someone with an AED?
What is an AED?
An AED (Automated External Defibrillator) is a small, lightweight device that analyses a person's heart rhythm and can recognise irregular heart rhythms such as ventricular fibrillation (VF) or ventricular tachycardia (VT), also known as Sudden Cardiac Arrest. AEDs are designed to be used by anyone who arrives first on the scene of a medical emergency, even those with minimal first aid or AED training. AEDs are often provided in public places and can be safely used by untrained members of the public whilst waiting for an ambulance. When a cardiac arrest has been recognised, the two adhesive pads (electrodes) must be attached to the patient's bare chest. This will allow the device to monitor the heart's electrical activity. An AED will only shock the patient if it is needed.
What is Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA)?
Sudden Cardiac Arrest is a significant cause of death in all developed western countries. In the UK alone, it is estimated that around 60,000 people die from SCA every year. Most cases of SCA are due to an abnormality of the heart's electrical rhythm called ventricular fibrillation. SCA is a condition caused by an electrical malfunction in the heart which stops blood from pumping around the body. When this happens, electrical chaos begins in the heart resulting in an uncontrolled quivering of the heart chambers (known as fibrillation). This will cause the victim to become unresponsive and without effective treatment, they will die. The main cause of SCA in adults in a heart attack. Excessive strain on the heart or a complication from a previously undiagnosed heart condition can also lead to cardiac arrest.
Are Sudden Cardiac Arrest and a Heart Attack the same thing?
No. They are two very different conditions caused by different factors, however a heart attack can lead to Sudden Cardiac Arrest. Most heart attacks are caused by coronary heart disease, which causes a blockage in the main artery that supplies blood to the heart. A blockage occurs due to a gradual build-up of fatty material in the walls of the artery which leads to the forming of a blood clot. This will starve the heart of blood and oxygen and cause damage to the tissue in the heart which can lead to cardiac arrest.
Why are defibrillators important?
The only effective treatment for a person who has suffered cardiac arrest is the combined administration of CPR and the use of a defibrillator. When a victim is in cardiac arrest, their heart is an irregular rhythm such as ventricular fibrillation (VF) or ventricular tachycardia (VT) and cannot pump blood around the body. A defibrillator will deliver an electrical shock to stop the irregular rhythm and allow the heart's natural pacemaker to restart the natural rhythm. For every minute that passes for a victim without defibrillation means a 10-14% drop in their survival rate, meaning by the time they are reached by medical attention their chance of survival has dramatically dropped.
Who can use an AED?
An AED can be used by anyone as they have voice, and sometimes visual, prompts to guide you through the rescue process. Upon placing the electrode pads on a victim, the AED will analyse their heart rhythm and will not deliver a shock unless it recognises the irregular heart rhythms of VF and VT. Though anyone can physically use an AED, it is highly recommended to have defibrillator training. This usually takes place in a 4 hour session and will teach you what an AED does and how to use one, with the chance to practise the full rescue process (including CPR). AEDs will provide audible instructions and most will provide visual prompts to make the process simple for an untrained rescuer, making AEDs suitable for use by members of the public with little or no training.
Will an AED always resuscitate someone in cardiac arrest?
No. The AED will only treat a victim experiencing VF or VT. If the casualty is in cardiac arrest without these heart rhythms then the victim will need CPR and medication instead. CPR will help to maintain a shockable rhythm if one is present. Without early CPR, an AED will be less successful when the victim has been in cardiac arrest for more than a few minutes. For every minute that goes by without defibrillation, the victim's chance of survival decreases by 10%. CPR keeps oxygen flowing around the body to the vital organs but only an electrical shock from an AED will correct VF and VT. Under current guidelines, CPR should be performed to a ratio of 30 chest compressions to 2 rescue breaths. This cycle should be repeated until either an AED or medical attention arrives. The major reason so few people survive SCA is that defibrillation is not provided quick enough. For defibrillation to be successful, it needs to be carried out within a few minutes of the onset of ventricular fibrillation which can be extended if a bystander has provided prompt and effective CPR.
Do I still need to call 999 / 112 for an ambulance?
Yes! Although CPR and defibrillation is the definitive treatment for Sudden Cardiac Arrest, a victim will still need medical attention as well as oxygen and cardiac drugs. The chain of survival is key to successful resuscitation. This is made up of the following four stages: Early Access (Call 999), Early CPR (begin resuscitation), Early Defibrillation (use of an AED) and Early Advanced Life Support (arrival of medical attention). Target ambulance response times in the UK are currently set at 8 minutes, so it is essential they are called as soon as you notice the victim is unconscious and not breathing.
Can I hurt someone with an AED?
No. Medically speaking, a victim of cardiac arrest is dead and the use of CPR and an AED is their only chance of survival. All AEDs have built-in safeguards to prevent them from delivering a shock to someone who is not in VF or VT. An AED can be used on infants and children as well as adults. For children, paediatric electrode pads are recommended as they will reduce the amount of electrical energy delivered by the shock. If they are not available, it is advised to use adult electrode pads as it may be their only chance of survival. AEDs are not recommended to be used on babies under one year of age. The Resuscitation Council state that the likelihood of causing harm by performing CPR or using an AED is extremely low.