Heart disease is an all-American scourge. Nearly 700,000 Americans died from it in 2020, making it the leading cause of death in the country.
When people think of heart disease, they often think of high cholesterol. But fibrillation issues can be just as deadly as cholesterol and blood pressure problems. If you want to stay safe, you need to get the facts about heart problems.
What are defibrillation disorders, and what is defibrillation? What kinds of defibrillators can you use? How can you use a defibrillator?
Answer these questions and you can take control of your heart health. Here is your quick guide.
Table of Contents
The Basics of Defibrillation
A healthy heart relies on electrical impulses, which allow heart muscles to contract and pump blood. If these impulses do not reach the heart, the muscles do not contract properly, causing blood to linger in place.
Over time, irregular heart rhythms can result in blood clots and organ damage. Most people die from them, experiencing a cardiac arrest or another complication.
Defibrillation can send electrical signals to your heart so all muscles contract at once. Most people experience a brief pause after defibrillation, and their heart muscles then pump oxygen-rich blood throughout their body.
There are a few types of devices that can help restore your heart function. Do your research on “AEDs & defibrillators” and evaluate your options before you buy one.
An automated external defibrillator (AED) is a small and portable device that you can find in most public locations. If you see a defibrillator in a restaurant, store, or sporting arena, you probably are looking at an AED defibrillator.
All AEDs administer electric shocks to the heart to trigger it into pumping blood. Modern devices can assess the victim’s heart function and determine when they should deliver electric shocks.
Most modern devices contain instructions allowing anyone to use them. AEDs should never be used in a reckless fashion, as an AED shock can cause pain.
An AED contains electrodes that go on a person’s skin. In general, you place one electrode over the heart and another to the side of the victim’s chest. The electrodes connect to the defibrillator and spread the electric signals out so they don’t burn the person’s skin.
You can carry an AED with you. Many devices are small enough to fit in a briefcase or messenger bag.
An implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD) is an internal device that goes inside a person’s body. Wires connect the defibrillator to the heart, allowing it to receive signals. If the heart starts beating abnormally, the ICD can send electric pulses back to the heart and get it going.
Many surgeons are experienced with placing ICDs in patients. But the surgery requires general anesthesia and hospitalization, as well as a long recovery process. You should talk to your doctor if you are interested in an ICD.
An ICD can malfunction if it is near powerful electronic devices. You should avoid going through metal detectors or using medical equipment like an MRI machine.
Your doctor may advise that you wait a few months to drive after getting an ICD. An electric signal from your ICD can cause you to faint, leading to an accident.
A wearable cardioverter defibrillator (WCD) is an external device. Unlike an AED, you can wear a WCD underneath your clothes as you perform work.
The device detects your heartbeat and delivers shocks when your rhythms become irregular. It also contains a monitor to record your rhythms, allowing your doctor to analyze them and diagnose you with a form of heart disease.
A WCD is a leasable device. You may only wear it for a few days until your doctor has the information about your heart rhythms that they need. After using a WCD, your doctor may approve you for an ICD.
Using a Defibrillator
Using a defibrillator is usually a last resort. If you are experiencing a cardiac arrest, you should communicate to other people what you are going through. You should also call 911 so you can get professional help.
Remain still so you don’t stress your heart too much. You can take an aspirin, but only if you have not consumed other medications. Aspirin can interact with other drugs and cause blood clots that damage your heart.
You can use an AED on yourself. Follow the instructions on your device and remain still while the device is administering the shock.
If you see someone else having a heart attack, you should call 911 and stay near that person. If they stop breathing or lose their pulse, you should begin CPR.
Use both of your hands to compress down on the victim’s chest. You want to compress 100 to 120 times per minute. You do not have to administer rescue breaths unless you think the victim has trouble breathing.
If CPR is not working, you can try using an AED. Connect the person to the AED as quickly as possible and then continue administering CPR. You should not stop compressions until a first responder relieves you.
So What Is Defibrillation?
You need to answer some tough questions about heart disease. What is defibrillation? It corrects misaligned muscles in your heart, allowing it to pump blood out.
What defibrillators can you buy? An AED is easy to transport and use while an ICD and a WCD are good for people with extreme heart problems.
How should you use your defibrillator? You should start by calling 911 and performing CPR. You should then follow the device’s written instructions while monitoring the victim’s vital signs.
Knowledge is your best tool against heart disease. Follow our coverage to read more heart health guides.