AEDs - Automated External Defibrillators

What Is An AED?

AED, or automatic external defibrillator, are small electronic devices that were designed to allow minimally-trained people to provide lifesaving defibrillation (electric shock to the heart) to victims of sudden cardiac arrest.

Unlike the defibrillators seen on medical TV shows, AEDs are small, lightweight and very easy to operate. They are about the size of a lunch box and have adhesive electrode pads that rescuers attach to the person's chest.

An AED is very simple to use yet houses the same sophisticated defibrillation technology relied on by emergency medical services personnel and physicians.

How Does An AED Work?

An AED is programmed to tell rescuers exactly what to do using voice and visual prompts. Rescuers attach adhesive electrode pads to the person's chest. Through these electrodes, the AED is designed to automatically analyze the electrical activity of the heart to determine if a "shockable" rhythm is present. An AED is so easy to use even untrained school children can operate one quickly and correctly. [1]

With voice prompts and pictures the AED guides rescuers through the resuscitation process, advising when to give CPR. If the AED determines the person's heart needs a shock, it tells rescuers to stand back so a shock can be safely given through the adhesive electrode pads affixed to the person's chest. (Note: Some AED models will tell the user to push a button to shock and then ‘stand clear’ of the victim, while others are fully automatic and will automatically give the shock after giving rescuers a 'stand clear' warning.)

The delivery of an electrical shock to a heart experiencing SCA briefly stops all electrical activity in the heart. This brief break from the previous electrical chaos can be enough for the heart to restart with a normal rhythm.

Not everyone can be saved from SCA, even with defibrillation. But early defibrillation, especially when delivered within three to five minutes of a person's collapse from SCA, does provide the best chance for survival.

It's that simple.

[1] Gundry, J., et al. 1999. Comparison of naïve sixth-grade children with trained professionals in the use of an automated external defibrillator. Circulation 100: 1703-7.

What Is An SCA?

Heart Attack vs SCA v2

During sudden cardiac arrest (SCA), the normally organized electrical impulses that initiate cardiac contraction (our heartbeats) discharge chaotically, and the heart muscle twitches spasmodically. Ventricular tachycardia (VT) and ventricular fibrillation (VF) are two types of these abnormal, chaotic heart rhythms that can bring on SCA. There’s rarely any warning, and a victim of SCA usually collapses and stops breathing immediately. That’s when the clock starts ticking.

Calling 911 in the event of SCA is critical. So is performing CPR on the victim. But the chances of survival from sudden cardiac arrest fall by seven to ten percent every minute, and the single most effective treatment for SCA is early defibrillation—providing a shock to the heart within the first five minutes.

Sadly, less than eight percent of people who suffer cardiac arrest outside the hospital survive. But survival rates of close to 50% have been achieved where automated external defibrillator (AED) programs have been successfully implemented. Survival rates can climb even higher when the person is treated within the first three minutes of cardiac arrest.

SCA is very different from a heart attack, or myocardial infarction, although it can cause SCA. A heart attack occurs when one or more blood vessels to the heart are blocked, causing damage to the heart muscle.

[1] A person experiencing a heart attack is at a much higher risk for sudden cardiac arrest. This increases his/her risk of death.
[2] The American Heart Association recommends that defibrillation occur within three minutes or less. Early defibrillation has been shown to significantly increase the rate of survival for SCA victims.

Who can use an AED?

Anyone who has minimal CPR and AED training can use an AED to help save a life.

Many people around the world are trained, including police and security officers, firefighters, athletic trainers, flight attendants and lifeguards. Newly-developed AEDs such as the LIFEPAK CR Plus AED offer greater ease of use and can be found in schools, health clubs, community centers, religious communities, homes and many other locations. AEDs are designed to help people with minimal training use them safely in tense, emergency situations. They have numerous built-in safeguards and are designed to deliver a shock only if the AED detects one or more shocks are necessary.

Their ease of use and built-in safety mechanisms make AEDs suitable for use in community or company-wide programs.

Why purchase an AED?

Having an AED close by can mean the difference between life and death for a victim of SCA.

Time to the first defibrillation shock is the most critical factor in determining survival rates for SCA. With every minute that goes by, survival rates drop up to 10 percent. [1] That leaves a window of 10 minutes in which to potentially save a life, after which few rescue attempts succeed. [2]

Currently more than 92 percent of SCA victims die because defibrillation isn't available soon enough. [3] Although CPR is essential to maintaining blood flow to the brain and other parts of the body, defibrillation is the single most effective treatment for SCA. Time is of the essence because brain death and permanent death begin in 4-6 minutes. [4]

The American Heart Association recommends defibrillation within five minutes or less of collapse. Unfortunately, it takes emergency medical services teams, on average, six to 12 minutes to arrive. [5] Time to defibrillation, the most critical factor in sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) survival, can be reduced if an AED is on-site and can be brought to the victim quickly. This is one of the reasons survival rates improve in communities with active AED programs. Remember, every minute that passes before defibrillation reduces survival rates by 7-10 percent.

An AED costs about as much as a personal computer and software, and is easy to use and maintain. Having AEDs readily available in schools, airports, stadiums and other public places makes sense.

Our goal is to improve SCA survival rates. On-site AEDs can make the difference.

[1]Cummins, R.O. 1989. From concept to standard-of-care? Review of the clinical experience with automated external defibrillators. Annals of Emergency Medicine 18: 1269-75.
[2]"About Sudden Death and Cardiac Arrest," American Heart Association Web site, May 2007.
[3]"About Sudden Death and Cardiac Arrest," American Heart Association Web site, May 2007.
[4]"About Sudden Death and Cardiac Arrest," American Heart Association Web site, May 2007.
[5]Physio-Control review of clinical literature, May 2007

Product Image Item Name+ Model Price
Lifepak CR Plus AED

Lifepak CR Plus AED

LIFEPAK CR Plus Fully Automatic AED Featuring the same advanced technology trusted by emergency medical professionals—yet simple to use—the...
LPCRPFAAED $1,795.00


Lifepak Express AED

Lifepak Express AED

LIFEPAK EXPRESS AED Although not everyone can be saved from sudden cardiac arrest, studies show that early defibrillation can dramatically improve...
LPESAED $1,295.00


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