Automated External Defibrillator
By T. Nadeau RN

It is estimated that over 50,000 Canadians per year die of coronary artery disease (Canadian Red Cross, 2004). Patient outcome is directly linked to the amount of time it takes for the heart to be defibrillated. The American Heart Association reports a survival rate of 90% when defibrillation is achieved within the first minute of collapse. For every minute of delay after the event has occurred, there is a seven to ten percent increase in mortality rate (Canadian Red Cross, 2004).

In a majority of cases, the initial heart rhythm of a patient having a cardiac arrest is ventricular fibrillation or pulseless ventricular tachycardia (Canadian Red Cross, 2004). The benefit of the AED (automated external defibrillator) in public places is that it can detect the patientís heart rhythm and analyze it without the rescuer having had any cardiac training. The AED would audibly indicate to the rescuer if a shock is needed and defibrillation could occur with the simple push of a button.

The AED is so simple to use that one mock cardiac arrest study showed the mean time to defibrillation from arrival on scene was that of 90 seconds for a group of grade six students to that of 67 seconds for trained EMTís and paramedics (Marenco et al 2001). With some guidance, most initial rescuers could perform this function with minimal training and as a result save lives.


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