A sudden cardiac arrest happens when a person’s heart stops beating in an instant, unexpectedly and without warning. When this happens, the heart also stops pumping blood to the other parts of the body, including the brain and other vital organs. If not given immediate treatment, sudden cardiac arrests have a high chance of causing permanent damage, sometimes even leading to death.
Every year, there are an estimated 30,000 cases of sudden cardiac arrest in Australia alone, with 90% of the victims succumbing to death. It has become the leading cause of death in the country, with cardiac arrest-related deaths being three times more common than trauma-related deaths, and four times more common than stroke-caused deaths. As such, maximum prevention of the condition has been a major goal by several local health companies.
Part of this prevention drive includes making sure people have access to a defibrillator during times of emergency, as it can significantly increase the victim’s chances of surviving a cardiac arrest. Immediate treatment with a defibrillator is especially helpful in Australia, as the average time for an ambulance to arrive at the emergency scene is around eight minutes – not a good number is given that most cardiac arrest sufferers die after having their heart stopped for ten minutes or more.
Once the heart stops beating, the victim’s chances of survival lessen by ten for every minute that passes. Contrary to popular belief, the defibrillator is not used to jump-start a person’s heart. It is actually the opposite of what the device does – when you use a defibrillator, the device will send an electric shock to the patient’s heart with the intent of stopping the heart so that the heart’s natural system can recover and go back to its normal rhythm.
As the name of the device implies, the defibrillator was invented to stop fibrillation – which refers to the irregular rhythm by which the heart beats, along with any abnormal trembling occurring in the heart muscles as the patient suffers from a heart attack. If left unchecked, fibrillation can lead to a lot of complications – blood clots, an enlarged heart, brain damage, strokes, and complete heart failure, to name a few. Making sure that there is always available access to a defibrillator can greatly lessen the chances of a person from getting any of those complications during or after a cardiac arrest.
What you Need to Know When Buying a Defibrillator
Like most medical supplies, buying a defibrillator requires you to know about the different kinds available in the market so that you can choose which best answers your needs. There are four major categories for defibrillators – you have the advanced life support (ALS) units, the automatic external defibrillator (AED), implantable cardioverter defibrillators, and the wearable defibrillator.
The advanced life support (ALS) defibrillator is probably the most famous of the four categories since this is what people usually see in movies and TV shows. The reason why it’s the most used model in mass media is simple – it is also the most commonly used design in hospitals, clinics and other medical environments. The ALS defibrillator comes with a set of paddles, also called electrodes, which is where the electric shocks transmit from. This type of defibrillator is ideal for manual operation by a healthcare professional – he/she uses the device to check the patient’s heart rate, monitor for any irregularities, and then decide if an electric shock is still needed. Although there are modern designs of this model that come with high-tech functions to help determine if electric shocks are necessary, it is still best to consider this model only if a medical professional will be the one to use it.
On the other hand, the automatic external defibrillator (AED) is a lot easier to use, requiring little to no training while carrying no risks in operating. Known for basic life-support, this is usually the defibrillator carried by emergency crews and kept in homes, schools, offices and other public places like airports, fire and police stations.
The AED defibrillator also includes functions that scan the patient’s heart rhythm for irregular beats, analyze and advise if an electric shock is needed, and sometimes automatically deliver the electric shock in case of an emergency, Like ALS models, the advancements of today’s technology has allowed for several new features – for instance, some designs use a built-in accelerator in the paddles to heal guide the user in delivering the necessary rate and depth of compressions.
The implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD) is meant for people who are somehow expecting a cardiac arrest, perhaps due to a specific medical condition or illness. In this case, the defibrillator is directly implanted into the patient so that even if the patient suffers from a cardiac arrest when he/she is all alone, the implanted defibrillator can automatically work its function and save the patient from instant demise.
Wearable defibrillators provide the same security and function, although less invasive and probably a lot more comfortable than an implanted device. If your medical history suggests 24/7 access to a defibrillator, one of these types might be what you’re looking for.
Finding a defibrillator that suits all your needs can be challenging. Before making a purchase, make sure that you consider both the user’s skills and availability as well as the potential patient’s need for access. If you still feel unsure about what kind of defibrillator would serve you best, you can always speak to professional suppliers of defibrillators like Emech Medical for further assistance in getting you what you need.