Question: What is an AED?
Answer: AED stands for "Automatic External Defibrillator." An AED is used to administer an electric shock to a person who is having a cardiac arrest. AEDs are designed to allow non-medical personnel to save lives.
Q: How does an AED work?
A: Two pads, connected to the AED, are placed on the patient's chest. A computer inside the AED analyzes the patient's heart rhythm and determines if a shock is required to save the victim. If a shock is required, the AED uses voice instructions to guide the user through next steps or CPR.
Q: Why do we need AEDs?
A: AEDs save lives. When a person has a sudden cardiac arrest ("SCA"), their heart's regular rhythm becomes chaotic or arrhythmic. Every minute that the heart is not beating lowers the odds of survival by 7% to 10%. After 10 minutes without defibrillation very few people survive.
Q: What is Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA)?
A: Sudden cardiac arrest is when the heart's normal heart rhythm suddenly becomes chaotic. The heart can no longer pump the blood effectively and the victim collapses, stops breathing, becomes unresponsive, and has no detectable pulse. When used on a victim of SCA, the AED can be used to administer a life-saving electric shock that restores the heart's rhythm to normal.
Q: Is SCA the same as a heart attack?
A: No. Both the heart attack (myocardial infarction) and a sudden cardiac arrest have to do with the heart, but they are different problems. SCA is an electrical problem; a heart attack is a "plumbing" problem. Sometimes a heart attack, which may not be fatal in it, can trigger a sudden cardiac arrest.
Q: Who can have a SCA?
A: Anyone, anytime. Children can have SCAs, teenagers can have SCAs, athletes can have SCAs, and senior citizens can have SCAs. Although the risk of SCA increases with age and in people with heart problems, a large percentage of the victims are people with no known risk factors.
Q: What does the American Heart Association say about AEDs?
A: The AHA strongly supports having AEDs in public areas such as sports arenas, office complexes, schools, doctors' offices, shopping malls, airports, and other public places. The AHA also advocates that all police and fire and rescue vehicles be equipped with an AED.
Q: What is the recommended treatment for SCA?
A: Defibrillation is the only treatment proven to restore a normal heart rhythm.
Q: How much time do I have to respond if someone has a sudden cardiac arrest?
A: Only minutes. Defibrillate within 3 minutes and the chances of survival are 70%. After 10 minutes, the chances of survival are negligible.
Q: I know CPR; wouldn't it help?
A: CPR only buys a little more time – potentially giving the victim a small amount of extra time until a defibrillator arrives. But SCA ultimately requires a shock to restore a normal heart rhythm. As a result, most CPR training now also includes AED training. Both early CPR and early defibrillation are important.
Q: Is an AED complicated to use?
A: AEDs are very easy to use. An AED can be used by practically anyone who has been shown what to do. In fact, there are a number of cases where people with no training at all have saved lives. AED4U.com strongly encourages all potential AED users to be formally trained in both CPR and AED training. Some states require training in order to be provided with immunity from civil action.
Q: Can a non-medical person make a mistake when using an AED?
A: AEDs are safe to use by anyone who has been shown how to use them. The AED's voice guides the rescuer through the steps involved in saving someone; for example, "apply pads to patient's bare chest" (the pads themselves have pictures of where they should be placed) and "press red shock button." Furthermore, safeguards have been designed into the unit precisely so that non-medical responders can't use the AED to shock someone who doesn't need a shock. AED4U.com recommends formal training in CPR and use of an AED.
Q: Can the AED itself make a mistake?
A: It is unlikely. Studies show that AEDs interpret the victim's heart rhythm more quickly and accurately than many trained emergency professionals. If the AED determines that no shock is needed, it will not allow a shock to be given.
Q: Can I be sued if I help someone suffering from SCA?
A: State and federal "Good Samaritan" laws cover users who, in good faith, attempt to save a person from death. To date, we are not aware of any judgments against anyone who used an AED to save someone's life.
Q: Has anyone been revived by using an AED?
A: There have been hundreds, if not thousands of individuals saved with AED's across the US.
Q: How often must I change batteries?
A: It really varies by manufacture. There are some AED's that have a 5 year shelf life and some with a 3 year life. Check your device manual for more information.
Q: What else do I need to do to keep my AED in working order?
A: The pads must be replaced periodically. Shelf life of AED pads varies by manufacture (2, 3, 5 years)
Otherwise, most AEDs perform automatic self-checks on a regular basis to test their operational readiness. Refer to your users guide for manufacture recommendations.
Q: Can anyone buy an AED?
A: Anyone can buy an AED. The Food and Drug Administration's (FDA) rules require a physician's prescription (AEDs are manufactured and sold under guidelines approved by the Food and Drug Administration). AED4U.com customers will receive free prescriptions with all AED unit purchases. (Note: your state may require medical direction in addition: not included)
Q: What features should I look for in an AED?
A: All AED's provide essentially the same over-all function; it is how they get you there is what can vary by manufacture. Some features that AED4U.com thinks are important are CPR help, because during a sudden cardiac arrest defibrillation is indicated about 6 out of 10 times, but CPR is indicated 10 out of 10 times. This CPR help is available on the ZOLL and Philips AED models. Some other features available on AED's are an LCD display screens, we think this is important if you are primilary in a very noisy environment and need to be able to visually see the prompts on a screen. LCD screens are available on the ZOLL AED Plus and Philips FR2 model AED's, this also allows the user to display ECG waveforms on these units, making them a great choice for dental and medical offices. Size is an important feature to consider, we think that the HeartSine Samaritan, Defibtech Lifeline and Philips Onsite do best in this category because of their small size. Battery and Pad life contributes to overall long term cost; you should choose one that has long life batteries and pads. No matter which AED you choose AED4U.com commends you for your commitment to saving lives. If you need help choosing which AED to purchase or need more information, please contact us at 1-866-517-8243 and we'll be happy to assist you.
Q: What is the warranty?
A: The industry standard for AED warranties is 5 years. HeartSine AED's are a 7 year warranty and Philips offers extended warranty options. Pads and Battery warranties vary by manufacture.
Q: Will Medicare or my insurance company pay for or assist with the purchase of a defibrillator?
A: To learn more about Medicare coverage of Automated External Defibrillators, please contact Medicare's DMERC (Durable Medical Equipment Regional Carrier) resource center for details at 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227) (TTY/TDD 1-877-486-2048 8:00am to 5:30pm EST). We have been successful in the past in working with insurance companies to get AED's covered. It is usually a long hard process. Contact your doctor or insurance company for details and medical billing process.