The Small Life-Saving Device Anyone Can Use
Do you fancy yourself as someone capable of responding to a person suffering from cardiac arrest? If not, you are not alone. Very few of us have had any professional training in such things.
Even basic first aid training is something that most of us have never undergone. And yet, new technology now makes it possible for any person to save the life of a cardiac arrest victim without any formal training.
The secret is in a machine known as the automated external defibrillator (AED). This small, life-saving device can be used by anyone capable of opening its case and reading basic instructions. The fact that the device is automated means it requires very little input from its human user. Amazing, isn't it?
Cardiac Arrest Deaths
Sudden cardiac arrest, a condition characterised by the sudden stopping the heart, kills about 100,000 people in the UK every year. That is more than AIDS, breast cancer and lung cancer combined. In fact, sudden cardiac arrestis the single biggest killer in the UK.
The deadly nature of sudden cardiac arrestis due to the fact that a stopped heart requires some sort of electrical charge to restart. CPR rarely works to restart a stopped heart. Rather, it only serves to manually force the heart to pump for as long as it is applied. The heart needs a jolt of electricity – whether internal or external – to start beating again.
A defibrillator provides that jolt of electricity. The amount of current delivered by an AED is enough to restart the heart but not so much as to damage the heart muscle. That makes it the perfect tool for saving a life that could otherwise be taken by cardiac arrest.
Arrest and Heart Attack
It is important to point out the fact that cardiac arrest is not the same thing as a heart attack. Cardiac arrest is a condition in which the heart stops beating. As you might imagine, every second cardiac arrest continues to increase the chance of serious injury or death.
A heart attack is different in a couple of ways. First, a heart attack is clinically defined as a loss of blood flow to the heart due to arterial blockage. Without sufficient blood, heart tissue begins to die. A heart attack can eventually lead to cardiac arrest if it is not treated quickly enough. However, it doesn't have to. It is entirely possible to have a mild heart attack and never experience cardiac arrest.
Why is this important to know? Because learning to recognise the signs of a heart attack could help prevent cardiac arrest. And even if not, recognising the symptoms is motivation to go locate an AED just in case it is needed.
Standard defibrillators and AEDs have both become more commonplace in the UK since we discovered how effective they are at saving lives. For the record, survival rates among cardiac arrest victims fall by as much as 10% with every minute that passes without defibrillation. Successful defibrillation within the first minute or so gives a cardiac arrest patient the highest chances of survival without injury.
Given how many people sudden cardiac arrestkills every year, it only makes sense to begin placing defibrillators in public buildings all across the country. From entertainment venues to restaurants and office buildings, there is no public space that should be without one.
Property owners would do well to understand that defibrillators are not expensive, either. There are plenty of affordable options available online and through medical device providers. If you want to know where to buy a defibrillator in the UK, just do a quick Google search. You will have lots of options within seconds.
Any legitimate objections one might raise about AEDs would not include assertions that the devices are too difficult to use. They are not. AEDs are one of the simplest of all medical devices. You just have to be able to read instructions and place a couple of electrodes on the skin using adhesive patches.
Your typical AED comes in a plastic case. To use it, you open the plastic case and read the instructions printed on the inside. There should be diagrams or illustrations included in those instructions. You then place the electrodes in the right locations by peeling adhesive strips and pressing the electrode to the skin. Then you turn the device on and let it do its thing.
Because an AED is automated, it does not require your assistance once it is up and running. It automatically monitors the patient's heartbeat. If no heartbeat is detected, it delivers a controlled electrical shock before resuming monitoring. This cycle continues until professional help arrives.
Cardiac arrest is a known killer. On the other hand, the defibrillator is a device with lifesaving capabilities we have known about for decades. The time has come for widespread adoption of AEDs in all public buildings. Lives are depending on it.
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