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AEDs and CPR: Lifesaving Techniques Explained What is an AED?

Updated: Jun 9


What is an AED?


An Automated External Defibrillator (AED) is a portable medical device designed to treat people experiencing sudden cardiac arrest (SCA). This device analyzes the heart's rhythm and, if necessary, delivers an electrical shock, or defibrillation, to help the heart re-establish an effective rhythm.


Understanding AEDs and CPR: Lifesaving Techniques Explained


What is an AED?


An Automated External Defibrillator (AED) is a portable medical device designed to treat people experiencing sudden cardiac arrest (SCA). This device analyzes the heart's rhythm and, if necessary, delivers an electrical shock, or defibrillation, to help the heart re-establish an effective rhythm.


How Does an AED Work?


1. **Turn on the AED**: Most AEDs have a power button or open automatically when the lid is lifted.

2. **Attach Pads to the Patient's Chest**: The device includes adhesive pads that need to be placed on the patient's bare chest. Clear diagrams on the pads indicate proper placement.

3. **Analyze the Heart Rhythm**: Once the pads are in place, the AED will automatically begin analyzing the heart's rhythm. Ensure no one is touching the patient during this analysis.

4. **Deliver Shock if Needed**: If the device determines that a shock is needed, it will prompt the user to deliver the shock. Some AEDs do this automatically, while others require the user to press a button.

5. **Follow Further Instructions**: The AED will provide further instructions, which may include continuing CPR or waiting for emergency medical services (EMS) to arrive.


What is CPR?


Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) is an emergency lifesaving procedure performed when the heart stops beating. It combines chest compressions with artificial ventilation to manually preserve intact brain function until further measures are taken to restore spontaneous blood circulation and breathing in a person experiencing cardiac arrest.


How Does CPR Work?


1. **Check Responsiveness and Breathing**: Ensure the person is unresponsive and not breathing or not breathing normally (gasping).

2. **Call for Emergency Help**: Dial emergency services and get an AED if available.

3. **Begin Chest Compressions**: Place the heel of one hand on the center of the person's chest, place your other hand on top, and push hard and fast, allowing the chest to rise completely between compressions. Aim for a rate of 100-120 compressions per minute.

4. **Open the Airway**: After 30 compressions, open the person's airway by tilting the head back and lifting the chin.

5. **Deliver Rescue Breaths**: Pinch the nose shut, cover the person's mouth with yours, and give two breaths, each lasting about one second, ensuring the chest rises with each breath. If you are not trained in CPR or are unable to perform rescue breaths, continue with chest compressions alone.


When and Where to Use AEDs and CPR


When to Use AEDs and CPR


- **Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA)**: AEDs and CPR are crucial when someone experiences SCA, where the heart unexpectedly stops beating.

- **Unresponsiveness and No Breathing**: If a person is unresponsive and not breathing, initiate CPR immediately and use an AED as soon as it is available.


Where to Use AEDs and CPR


- **Public Places**: Many public locations, including airports, shopping malls, gyms, and schools, are equipped with AEDs.

- **Workplaces**: Companies often place AEDs in accessible locations to ensure employee safety.

- **Homes**: For individuals with a high risk of cardiac arrest, having an AED at home can be life-saving.

- **Events**: Sports events, concerts, and large gatherings typically have AEDs on-site for emergencies.


How to Use AEDs and CPR


Using an AED


1. **Turn on the Device**: Press the power button or open the device to turn it on.

2. **Follow Voice Prompts**: The AED will provide clear, step-by-step instructions.

3. **Attach Pads**: Place the pads on the person’s bare chest as illustrated.

4. **Ensure Safety**: Make sure no one is touching the person during analysis and shock delivery.

5. **Administer Shock**: If advised, press the shock button to deliver a shock.

6. **Resume CPR**: Continue CPR after the shock or as directed by the AED until EMS arrives.


Performing CPR


1. **Ensure the Scene is Safe**: Make sure you and the person are in a safe environment.

2. **Check for Response**: Tap the person and shout to see if they respond.

3. **Call for Help**: If there is no response, call emergency services and get an AED.

4. **Begin Compressions**: Start chest compressions at a depth of about 2 inches and a rate of 100-120 per minute.

5. **Provide Breaths**: After 30 compressions, give two rescue breaths if trained.

6. **Use AED**: As soon as the AED is available, turn it on and follow the instructions.


Conclusion


AEDs and CPR are critical tools in the fight against sudden cardiac arrest. Understanding how and when to use these lifesaving techniques can make the difference between life and death. By being prepared and knowledgeable, anyone can help save a life during a cardiac emergency.


Dr Aravind Reddy

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